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soh15 [2011/07/21 12:42] (current)
doan created
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 +The searing agony that ravaged his entire body was the least of the torment that awakened him when he woke up.
 +
 +He was covered in acidic green slime. Next to him lay the remains of Bilan, his exoskeleton smashed to pieces and his internal organs torn apart. Beside the corpse of his enemy lay those of the nine others he had slain. No, he had murdered them in cold blood. Once before, there might have been meaning to his actions – they had attacked him first, or had threatened something so dear to him or vital to his fate that he couldn't let them live. Now, they had died just because...
 +
 +Because he had let himself be possessed by Bilan. Because he had let Bilan use him to kill everyone on the Island.
 +
 +He tried to stand up from his foetal position. He couldn't move. When tried to speak, no words came out. His throat felt like it was burning up. He at least wanted to speak. To say 'I'm sorry, I was only doing this for the good of everyone'. To beg forgiveness.
 +
 +He couldn't even breathe. Just opening his eyes one last time, comprehending what had happened to him, had used up all his remaining strength. He had almost died in battle many times but he had never really known what it meant to be able to mark off that point when you have no life energy left inside you. Is this how Kay died that night, he wondered, suddenly full of morbid curiosity. There was something to be said for Hell: it was a unique experience.
 +
 +A hand grabbed him and lifted him up by the hair. Suddenly, he was looking into his own eyes. If he could have reacted in any other way than desperately trying to keep his eyes open, he might have done.
 +
 +“Feels good, doesn't it?” whispered Carbon Garian, “Killing and dying only for the sake of completeness. There's no purer kind of death. And now you're going to become one with an even greater purpose. You'll make even more progress and you won't have to do anything. Not that I'm saying you haven't done a lot for the cause. I always did admire you the most. If you hadn't come back, I wouldn't have found you at all. Why did you come back, I wonder? I think it was to see what would happen. That's what I would have done, if it were me.”
 +
 +He felt another intolerable pain in his chest, then a cold sensation washed over him. After that, there was no more pain, no sensation at all, only darkness.
 +
 +“You know,” Carbon Garian said, talking to himself, “I don't think anything new is going to happen here after all. I think everyone's dead.”
 +
 +He turned on his heel and began to walk off. He almost fell over. A hand was clutching his leg. No, not a hand. Something larger than a hand, the wrong shape, and metallic.
 +
 +He screamed as a strong electric shock went up his leg. A crimson blur shot out of nowhere, grabbing him by the hair and dragging him away. Fortunately, the bird was unaffected by electricity, although she had almost pulled his leg out of its socket trying to extricate it from the Warden's grip. She also didn't see the razor-edged platform that hurtled down the corridor towards her. It collided with the force field around her and fell out of the air. She pushed Carbon Garian out of the way just in time as the door slammed shut and locked almost on top of him. All the doors and platforms, all the lifts and cranes, everything was activating on its own with murderous intent. They would have to make their own way out.  She grabbed a floor panel and tried to pry it loose, hoping that her companion was sane enough to understand that he was supposed to be assisting her.
 +
 +They dropped down into the darkness and a mass of wires snaked down after them like a hangman's noose. The hunt was on.
 +
 +----------------------------
 +
 +Immediately upon stepping off the boat, Garian knew he was too late.
 +
 +Don't be late. That had been the most urgent advice of the voice in his head, whatever the situation. Turn up late and you've already lost. It had hardly mattered every other time – whenever he arrived, he would return to the start and any progress he had made wouldn't make any difference. Even when he began to realise what was happening to him, it hadn't mattered. He always made sure he was on time anyway. The one time he could have changed the situation, he was late.
 +
 +He had followed the clear trail of destruction through Death Valley and into Deadman's Castle. From the lack of obvious purpose and the occasional green glowing goo trail, he recognised it as Bilan's handiwork. Remembering that this was a Parallel in which Bilan was alive (a shudder ran down his spine as he remembered how this had come about) and expecting a fight with the monster at some point, he kept his sword drawn and never let his guard down, preparing for battle at any moment. However, the Island had been strangely quiet, up until the point where he found everyone already dead, including Bilan.
 +
 +Nine corpses. Musashi, Bruno, Indigo, DeBose, Blade, Sean, Meg, Bilan and M-Bilan. In the midst of them all, Garian's broken sword. He understood its significance. He knelt and said a silent prayer. 
 +
 +“Sorry we were too late,” he said.
 +
 +“Its our fault,” said the other Garian, “We held you up.”
 +
 +The glitch-Garian did not say anything. He was staring intently at a corner of the room. The grisly scene had been disturbed. From the tracks in the blood, it looked as if one of the bodies had been dragged away. The railing was missing, as were the wires that led to the security cameras.
 +
 +“There's a Snakebird near here,” said Perdix. She flew over to the far corner of the room. It was actually a massive balcony that adjoined the east and west wing of the main prison building. Normally, it would be patrolled by the Chief of Security and the elite guards. As well as the remains of the battle, there was also a platform randomly lying on the floor and a section of the floor had been pried loose. A thick knot of wires led down into the hole, bursting from the walls or snaking from the remaining security cameras and door mechanisms.
 +
 +“Don't follow. It might be Regina,” said Garian, “Which means Carbon Garian will be there too. He... he said not to engage Carbon Garian. He said we weren't strong enough...”
 +
 +He bowed his head.
 +
 +“I'm fine with not fighting another of my kind,” said the bird, “Its always a risk. I know what we're capable of. But what else are we supposed to do? What are we even here for?”
 +
 +“I guess we can't meet him now, so... I have no idea,” admitted Garian, “I guess we really are stuck now.”
 +
 +“What, just because we can't talk to a guy we didn't even know the existence of until a few hours ago?” asked glitch-Garian, not looking away from the balcony.
 +
 +“You don't remember. I guess you've been out of the loop too long, but that voice in my head has saved my life on more than one occasion. He warned me about my enemy's movements in fights, and he sent another Garian to rescue me when I was trapped in an arcade machine.”
 +
 +“... Trapped in a what?”
 +
 +“Don't ask,” he said, “There's more. I... think he helped me become aware. When I first started having more than just a sense of deja vu. At first I started writing notes to myself in my diary before I went to sleep, and they would still be there... you know... in the morning. But then I began hearing the voices, telling me really clearly, I was going to do some things that have happened before and I needed to prepare for them. I thought I was going mad. That this Island had sent me mad.”
 +
 +“Good God, I remember too!” said the other Garian.
 +
 +“Why didn't he tell us straight away, do you think?” asked glitch-Garian.
 +
 +“Maybe he was worried our minds couldn't handle it all at once. Or maybe we really were only comprehending it a little at a time. Like people coming to terms with a death,” Garian said, “Or maybe he himself only knew so much.”
 +
 +“Come to think of it, the night I became aware was the night everything changed...” said the other Garian, “I remember... it was one of the times I was late. I couldn't take it any more. I had made up my mind to kill myself.”
 +
 +“I had been on time,” Garian shrugged, “I usually am.”
 +
 +“I can't remember what the hell I was doing,” admitted glitch-Garian, “I remember catching on quite quickly. I had to hide it from Jack. He kept trying to stop me hunting for a way out. I can't remember why.”
 +
 +“I wonder if he thought you were infected?” asked Perdix. She and the other two Garians had explained what she knew to Garian.
 +
 +“We can't just stay here forever. He'll notice us soon,” said Garian, “I vote we go through that exit.”
 +
 +He pointed to the way that led further into the prison, where Indigo would normally be waiting for them. A disgraced Lavian ex-ninja, spy and serial killer, the man sometimes had prophecies of the future, although he was not aware of the cycles. His advice would not be available this time.
 +
 +“I wouldn't go that way if I were you.”
 +
 +They looked up. On the main display terminal for the security cameras, almost as large as the screen on the outside wall of the prison, Kurtliegen's face appeared. He looked almost dead. All thoughts that it might be part of one of his endless schemes dissolved when Garian saw the expression on his face and the size of the wound in the man's chest.
 +
 +“I know where he is. I can get you out alive,” he said, “If you give me back what you stole.”
 +
 +“Now's not the time!” said Garian. Is the man still obsessing over his personal possessions?
 +
 +“I know how it works,” said the Warden, coughing up blood, “And I can use it. You can't.”
 +
 +He smiled and, with great effort, held his hand up to the screen, “See?”
 +
 +Garian was about to make a sarcastic retort but glitch-Garian kicked him in the shin. “Show me in person. Where are you?”
 +
 +With a low droning noise, a set of platforms rose up to the balcony and hovered there as if inviting the bounty hunters to step onto them. Glitch-Garian went first. When they were all stood on the platforms, they descended into the pitch blackness. For a long time, they heard nothing but the whine of the platforms' servo-motors and the loud whirring, humming and clanking of other unseen machinery. It was like entering the bowels of one huge machine – a machine mostly made up of opening and closing doors. Then they were in a narrow corridor with a few service lights still blinking on and off. The claustrophobia was so intense it was almost alive. This was not a place for humans. Time melded into one unending stream for Garian. It felt odd to stop counting cycles, to no longer know if he was late, early or on time. Would he stop caring after a while? Would that be a sin, to just accept his fate?
 +
 +The platform came to rest in a vast chamber. In the centre of it was a smaller chamber that reminded  Garian of the Carbon Freeze machine. Made of overlapping metal plates like a giant metal rose, red and blue lines traced the outlines of massive pipes, as well as masses upon masses of other wires, all leading to an array of computer terminals and other devices around the edge of the chamber.
 +
 +In the middle of all this, also covered in wires, was the Warden Kurtliegen. He looked like a spider in the middle of a giant mechanical web. Despite the pain he was obviously in, the expression on his face was slightly less sleep-deprived than usual. Several of the display terminals around the room showed his face, in a variety of different degrees of that same grouchy expression. It would probably have been disturbing if the man had a wider range of emotions.
 +
 +Glitch-Garian stepped forwards and glared at him like a cat wanting to know where its dinner was. The Warden's hand emerged from the mass of wires again, displaying the copper, gold and silver rings on his fingers. The bounty hunter was about to remove his own ring of pure chaotic energy when Garian reached over and placed a firm hand on his shoulder.
 +
 +“Don't you dare,” he said, “That bastard can control Bilan with those things. I thought you said you weren't playing any more games, Kurt.”
 +
 +“That's Warden to you,” he said, “And you shouldn't be lecturing me about betrayal, if you're not going to hand over what you promised me you'd recover. You really are the worst bounty hunter I've ever hired.”
 +
 +Glitch-Garian glared at him accusingly. He shook his head frantically. Kurtliegen's eyes looked faintly amused by the sudden tension between the three Garians.
 +
 +“Anyway, the rings aren't really for controlling Bilanium monsters. I thought they were, but it was my mistake. They're a master key for every system in the prison, things I didn't even know were remotely controllable or even existed. It makes sense, really. It would be a dangerous thing to have around, so it would be stored somewhere like the three castles.”
 +
 +“Is this what you meant when...”
 +
 +“Yes. I am reaching apotheosis. Truly becoming one with these walls.” he began coughing up blood. Several of the machines started flashing red and beeping wildly, activating life support systems that slowly stabilised him again. Garian had been a life support machine before, when he had been put into a coma for a month following a particularly unsuccessful mission, and it was more painful than the thing that had almost killed him.
 +
 +“Call it what you like, you look like you're about to die,” said Garian.
 +
 +“Oh, your friend is to blame for that,” he said, “I would have had a serious word with him about it, but he rudely died without my permission. Then your other friend noticed I was still alive and tried to murder me. He was the second person to try and murder me in one day. It was a good job I already had these rings on. They vastly increase your life energy. You can't be in charge without having more life energy than everyone else, for when they all try and murder you.”
 +
 +“Maybe if you weren't such a terrible leader, then...” Garian snapped. Perdix cut him off.
 +
 +“More importantly, you say that the Nothing is another of these control rings?”asked Perdix, “What does it control?”
 +
 +“I have no idea. You've seen more than I have of those parts of the Island that shouldn't still exist,” said the Warden, “I'm a being of order, not of chaos.” Garian snorted at the suggestion that Kurtliegen was even remotely lawful, “But I think it makes more sense when you consider all of the items together. There's a key card that controls a bridge. That means there must be a bridge to be controlled.”
 +
 +“We've been working on that. I'm afraid we've drawn a blank so far,” said the bird.
 +
 +“I have my suspicions,” he replied, “Now, the Bilanium. Considering what we already know about Bilanium...”
 +
 +“Its in the mines somewhere?” guessed Garian.
 +
 +“Its in Bilan, somewhere.” corrected the Warden, “Or, in other words, Bilan is part of the mechanism.”
 +
 +“That's absurd!” he yelled.
 +
 +“Not really. We already know that Bilan was created artificially.”
 +
 +“As some kind of weapon. A weapon that went out of control. Why would something like that be used to guard a prison?”
 +
 +“No, it makes sense,” said Perdix, fluttering her wings. Her feathers were ruffled, “This 'Bilan' thing sounds like a Snakebird creation. A dangerous one if a human got hold of it and didn't know how it worked. Especially if one of the tools to use it was taken out of commission. Though I can't imagine how one of the birds could have been so irresponsible to allow unauthorised personnel to use it, or to allow the fourth ring to go missing...”
 +
 +“Birds made the prison?” asked Kurtliegen, “That would explain why most of it appears to be designed by people who enjoy falling from great heights. I would have guessed lemmings.”
 +
 +“I'll try not to take offense at that,” said Perdix, “I wonder if its a BInary Logically Absolute Negator? You would need an immense amount of power for one of those things...”
 +
 +“Bilan DOES have an immense amount of power on this Island,” said Kurtliegen, “More than can be controlled, if he is allowed to grow uninterrupted, even with the three rings. This is what led me to believe there was a fourth ring. And that Bilan is a deliberate, integral part of this system.”
 +
 +“What's a Binary... uh... Logical Thing?” asked glitch-Garian, looking down at the Nothing in disbelief, as if it was impossible that such a simple-looking thing could be part of something so complicated-sounding.
 +
 +“Your foot's clipping through the platform,” replied the bird. He looked down, panicked and tried to pull his foot out of the floor. It was stuck fast, “Put your Nothing on first, idiot!”
 +
 +“Maybe you should keep it on a little while longer,” said Kurtliegen, “In fact, maybe you should have them for now. Just until we get there. You won't be able to control the prison with them but your life energy will be boosted. If Bilan decides to come back and attack us, I don't want you all dying!”
 +
 +“That's reassuring of you.”
 +
 +“Don't take Bilan lightly. He's beyond even his M-Bilan form now. He sprouted wings and flew into the sky, the last time I saw him,” said Kurtliegen, “Its going to be very dangerous to follow him.”
 +
 +“Into the SKY?”
 +
 +“Indeed. If that's where he's going, there must be something up there, mustn't there?”
 +
 +“Why would anything be in the sky?”
 +
 +“We built this place,” said Perdix, “And when we have something we really don't want anyone else to interfere with, we put it in a place where only we can go.”
 +
 +“That's good for you, but we can't fly and there's no way you can carry us all!”
 +
 +“You're forgetting something,” said the Warden. He closed his eyes, one of the machines beeped and the moving platforms they stood on began to rise up into the air, “I'm going to make a bridge.”
 
soh15.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/21 12:42 by doan
 
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