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soh19 [2011/07/26 22:55] (current)
doan created
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 +He woke up to the sound of the theme from Love Love: Mini Racer, and a soft, quiet voice humming along to it.
 +Most of the room was shrouded in darkness but from what he recognised, he knew where he was. It was the Warden's control room, except that, instead of showing security camera footage of different rooms in the prison, all of the display terminals showed a game of Love Love: Mini Racer. Garian-1 had to admit that whoever was holding the controller was truly excellent at the game. Their play was flawless, wasting not a second of time and making not a single mistake. He wondered if it was even a person or the game's AI who was in control. Studying it for a few more minutes – he was finding it difficult to take his eyes off the screen – he realised that it wasn't a single game but a slightly different playthrough on each monitor, with a short time lag between them.
 +
 +“Saved by Dark Savior, I was saved by Dark Savior,” sang the voice, “Saved by Dark Savior, that's why I sometimes do not save.”
 +
 +Now curious, Garian-1 stepped forwards so he could see who was stood at the controls. The man wasn't stood on a platform at all, but was hovering in mid-air under his own power, his legs bent as though mid-jump. His hands ran over the controls like a master pianist. Garian-1 saw that the controls were different as well. While beforehand they were just a row of buttons, presumably for controlling the platforms, there was now a set of game controls for an arcade machine.
 +
 +“Parallel One to Parallel Five are the only things that kept me alive/ Parallel Six is what is keeping me going on/On and on... Hello, Garian,” said DeBose, without looking around or breaking his concentration on the game, “Have a cup of tea. The platform behind you.”
 +
 +Garian looked around and blinked. There was indeed a moving platform behind him, upon which was a rather ornate teapot and several china tea-cups. He poured himself a cup. “Nice playing.”
 +
 +“Thanks. I was playing this game for money and winning before I ended up on the rock. Now I've had all the time in the world to improve. I'm the Island champion, you know. That's no mean feat. Meg plays like a demon.”
 +
 +“I never knew you got up to such things in the Carbon Room.”
 +
 +“We have our own little world.”
 +
 +“I heard your story, DeBose.”
 +
 +“You did, eh? All of it?”
 +
 +“Well... Jack didn't fill in many of the details. For instance, the words that you heard. Before you...”
 +
 +“Jack's an idiot.”
 +
 +“I agree.” said Garian, “But this isn't news to me.”
 +
 +“You don't know just how much of an idiot he is,” said DeBose, “He wants to end all this.”
 +
 +“And you don't?”
 +
 +“Not the wrong way, no,” he said, “Not just making everything the way it was before, so that none of it ever happened. Its an even worse idea than Meg's. At least she thinks she's aiming for the true ending. She just thinks it involves killing everything, because, well, she enjoys killing.”
 +
 +“That's what this is about? That 'True Ending' business?”
 +
 +“Shortly after I arrived on the Island,” he said, “I began having strange dreams. I heard the same music every night, and saw visions of... to call it a paradise would be to trivialise it. Any fool can dream of heaven and start a holy war over it. I've come to an understanding of what I saw over the years. Its a kind of compensation for the existence of the Enemy. A high point to balance the low point.”
 +
 +“Did you try and sabotage the project so that the Enemy couldn't be executed?”
 +
 +He nodded, “Back then, there was a chance of bringing about the True Ending very early on. Because I failed, because the restraints of this place were allowed to grow so tight, it has grown much more complicated.”
 +
 +“Jack said it was viral information.”
 +
 +“Everyone who believes that the True Ending exists cannot help but look for it. Whatever the cost. They cannot control themselves,” he said, “The Snakebirds of the Agency already had a little suspicion that such a thing existed and were looking into it but once the killings started happening, they deleted every piece of research they had.”
 +
 +“Might any of exist as a prototype?”
 +
 +“An interesting idea,” he mused, “I hadn't thought of that. All of the Carbon Freeze prisoners and quite a few of the mundane prisoners are now certain that a True Ending is possible. They are all looking for it in their own way. Many of these ways are clearly wrong, such as Meg's. She is trying to delete the Universe.”
 +
 +“Using the loophole in the Kill Switch?”
 +
 + “Indeed. She almost succeeded. I am containing her power. While I wish for everyone to continue looking, to see what they find, I will not have anyone bring about any of their flawed conceptions of the True Ending.”
 +
 +“What do you think the True Ending is?”
 +
 +“I don't know. I am aware that I can't know.  Unlike the others, I came to understand an important fact... the True Ending is not my personal little game to do with as I please. It does not even happen from my perspective.”
 +
 +“Happen from your perspective?”
 +
 +“Think about it. The Parallels... they are somebody's future. Someone's timeline. Maybe even someone's waking dream. Everyone assumes the Parallels belong to them. But in that case, whose are they really?”
 +
 +“I heard a rumour it was a carbon freeze nightmare.”
 +
 +“Our dreams aren't nightmares, Garian, they are lucid dreams,” he said, “You're in one now. I always have Love Love Mini Racer in mine, its my favourite hobby.”
 +
 +“I'm in a dream?” exclaimed Garian. He looked around again. It wasn't just dark – the detail of the room didn't exist. Only what mattered to DeBose about his recollection of the control room had been added to the dream. The music was coming from nowhere – the computer had no speakers. In the minutes that had passed, the teapot had refilled itself.
 +
 +“It was the only way to get you away from Tracy, keep you hidden from the birds while I had a civilised word with you and stop Meg from killing you. We can't really hurt each other in our own domains. I brought you here to give you a message, Garian.” he said, pausing the computer then floating over to the platform so he could pour himself some tea, “The True Ending is now possible again, more so than ever before. If it isn't triggered soon, there will come a point where it is too late. I won't be able to hold off Meg's attempts to destroy the Universe or one of the others will assassinate me. One of the main factors in the way of the True Ending is yourself, Garian.”
 +
 +“I'm in the way, huh?”
 +
 +“There's a reason you're called the 'Dark Savior Impostor'. There simply aren't supposed to be so many of you. The True Ending is only one Parallel, yet the very existence of doppelgängers implies more than one Parallel. If there are doppelgängers but only one Parallel, it will be destroyed by paradox backlash,” he said, “It already happens. Pauli's Exclusion Principle just can't be ignored. What's more, all of you can already be proven to come from an existing Parallel that is not the True Ending.”
 +
 +“So do you!”
 +
 +He shook his head, “We are all absolute, grounded to the Island, not localised to a Parallel. The Parallels affect what happens to us but there isn't one of us for every Parallel. Otherwise there would be multiple of us, too.”
 +
 +“Why would I be different? I'm not some quantum weirdo freak like those birds!”
 +
 +“I don't know why, to be honest. My theory is that its because you can use the Capture ability,” he said, “Remember, the Parallels themselves are actually variations on Capture fields. The Agency didn't consider what would happen if someone tried to use Capture fields inside the Parallels.”
 +
 +“So, you want me to stop Capturing people?”
 +
 +“No, Garian, I want you to decide who you are. Which future is yours.”
 +
 +“But if I do that, what will happen to the other Garians?” he yelled.
 +
 +“Did you think of that when you tried to stay on the boat while it sank?”
 +
 +“I'm not that stupid any more! Besides, I have no idea which decision would lead to the True Ending!”
 +
 +“That's not yours to decide,” he said, “Just make up your mind who you are. When you wake up, you'll be back on the boat. It will be your last chance ever.”
 +
 +As soon as DeBose mentioned waking up, he felt a warm, comforting sensation, like being immersed in a hot bath. His vision began to mist over. Back before he was trapped in the time loop, he used to try and resist waking up whenever he went lucid during a good dream. It never worked. It wasn't working now, either. Then again, it wasn't his dream. Neither was it a particularly good one.
 +
 +“Wait!” he yelled, “Please. Tell me one more thing. Carbon Garian. He's looking too, right?”
 +
 +“Yes, he is.”
 +
 +“He thinks he has to kill me to find it!”
 +
 +“That's right.”
 +
 +“Have...have you been stopping him?”
 +
 +“No, I haven't.”
 +
 +“Because he's right?”
 +
 +“I'm not as strong as Carbon Garian.”
 +
 +“But is he right?” he asked, “DeBose, is Carbon Garian...?”
 +
 +“I can beat him at games, though.” said DeBose, turning his back on Garian-1, who was falling...
 +
 +-------------
 +
 +//Falling down through the floor, the world a blur as he accelerates rapidly, through layers upon layers of the floors of different moments, into the sky again, faster and faster to crash through the barrier, streaks of black lightning as the world strains against what it knows shouldn't be... Above him he sees the Spirit of the Nothing like an eclipse of the moon, her eyes empty and hungry, the world stripped away like so much magnetic tape. Glitch-Garian cries out and falls faster, a trail of static behind him like the dust of a falling star. A tearing, wrenching sound. Hands grab him and throw him as far as they can go, away, out the other side.//
 +
 +//He looks up and sees Glitch-Garian suspended there. He reaches out for his companion. They are safe. Tracy is gone. He tries to pull himself out of the bottom of the floor, then shakes his head. His eyes turn to the bird flying towards them. Red as the setting sun...//
 +
 +//The sky gives way and he carries on falling.//
 +
 +-----------
 +
 +Garian-2's scream woke Garian-1 up as well. He almost hit his head on the arcade machine. He jumped to his feet, shaking the remnants of the dream out of his head. Like every time, they weren't completely gone. DeBose's warning rang in his head like a timer.
 +
 +“He's dead,” said Garian-2, his eyes wide, “Glitch-Garian. He didn't make it out.”
 +
 +“Tracy got him?”
 +
 +He shook his head, “He pulled us both free. He did his usual trick of falling through the floor. He got stuck near the end. I guess he's not as good at it now he doesn't have any of his toys. I reached up to help him and... Regina came back. With Carbon Garian.”
 +
 +“Oh God.” A morbid thought occurred to him: this makes it easier for me.
 +
 +“What the hell is that bird doing helping him?” demanded Garian-2, “The birds went on and on but they didn't say a word about that! Kaiser knew what was happening and he thought it was perfectly okay! Now they're gone again!”
 +
 +“I guess they've got bigger things to worry about.”
 +
 +“Garian, there's only two of us left. In the whole world.”
 +
 +“Think yourself lucky. A long time ago, I've heard, there was only one.”
 +
 +“That's not funny!” he growled.
 +
 +“I was being serious,” he said, “Garian... haven't you ever thought... if we ever get out of here, back to a normal world where time acts normally... we might not be able to have more than one of us any more?”
 +
 +“Hey, you sound just like Carbon Garian! Don't you dare get any ideas about trying to kill me!” yelled Garian-2, pulling his sword free. Garian-1 reached for his own sword. His hand closed on thin air. Garian-2 noticed it too, “Where's your sword?”
 +
 +“DeBose must have taken it, the thieving bastard!”
 +
 +“When was DeBose here?”
 +
 +“Its okay. He's not. It was a dream. Put the sword away. I'm really not going to kill you.”
 +
 +“Garian, we don't have dreams...”
 +
 +“It wasn't my dream.”
 +
 +“Whatever. Just don't try and scrounge off me next time we're in a fight. Either steal Musashi's sword next time we go past his cage or learn Kung Fu,” he sighed, “I can't believe we're back on the damn boat.”
 +
 +“I know, its only happened two hundred and fifty five times in a row so far!”
 +
 +“I meant right now. In the middle of... everything that's happened. What the hell do we do now? Where do we go? Everything's falling apart!”
 +
 +“Only one place we can go.”
 +
 +“What do you mean?”
 +
 +“This is our last chance ever, is what the man said.”
 +
 +“What, DeBose?”
 +
 +“I really did speak to him in a dream. I found out what it was that Jack tried to hide from us,” he said, “And I can see why it made him go crazy.”
 +
 +“Are you going to go crazy now?”
 +
 +“I'm starting to wonder,” said Garian-1, walking over to the arcade machine, “Garian... I need to talk somethin' over with you. Shall we have a last game while we talk? I don't think time passes when we play this game.”
 +
 +“I still wonder why it says 'Garian' made it,” he said, taking the second set of controls, “I think that Parallel was bullshit. Something the Carbon Freeze inmates made up. I'm gonna beat you, by the way, I play this game every time I hit the boat.”
 +
 +“We'll see about that,” he said, hitting the Start button. The first level circled into view and they were off. True to his word, Garian-2 immediately took the lead, blocking off Garian-1's path so he couldn't accelerate without crashing straight into him.
 +
 +“So, what did you want to talk about?”
 +
 +“Just say there's a Parallel Six,” he said, “Whether or not its actually called 'Parallel Six'. Just... something. A True Ending. And if it really is the big one. Not just the way out, but... something better than freedom. 'Even after I serve my time, I'd love to live here forever'.”
 +
 +“Uh-huh.”
 +
 +“It would have to be a different Parallel. And the other Parallels, they would have to end. That means there can't be all of us running around any more.”
 +
 +“Is that what you meant by this being our last chance?”
 +
 +“I'm not sure. I think its gonna be more than just theory. I think something big's gonna go down next time we step off the boat. And DeBose said we were gonna have to make the decision this time,” he said, risking a sudden, fast, tight turn that sent him into a loop that overtook Garian-2. He was now in the lead, although he was losing on points – his clone had been nabbing all the spheres.
 +
 +“The decision?”
 +
 +“Which one is gonna turn up at the Endgame.”
 +
 +“We can't make a decision like that!” he said, grunting in impatience. His burst of emotion had almost lost the game; he had pushed down too hard on the accelerator and almost run straight into a wall, “How would we even make it so that only one person turns up? Even if I kill you now – and we're not fighting it out – you'd just end up the next Garian-5! Besides, we have no idea how to make the decision. For all we know, one of the others who are already dead was the right one! Hell, Carbon Garian could be the right one!”
 +
 +“Or none of us could be,” replied Garian-1, “That's why I haven't really believed in the whole 'True Ending' thing up to now. We all have our own futures. There's already a way in which our stories end. There aren't any of us left over. Otherwise, they'd already know about it and the True Ending would already have happened somewhere.”
 +
 +“So, we're screwed?”
 +
 +He shook his head. Now he was clearly in the lead. He had taken advantage of Garian-2's slip-up to speed ahead and grab the next batch of spheres. There was a good chance he would win.
 +
 +“The Carbon Room freaks are all right about one thing. If we're ever gonna see this 'True Ending', we can't just go with the flow. We're gonna have to swim against the tide,” he said, “So, we're gonna have to decide who it is that we want to see the True Ending, then go there and make our own path. I... I wish that Glitch-Garian were still with us. He would have been my choice, straight away. He's already done more in the service of the True Ending than any of us have. And he sacrificed so much... even his life...”
 +
 +“So... who is it, then? Who would make the best Garian-6?”
 +
 +“Well... to be honest, not me,” said Garian-1, “All I ever do is be late and screw things up. My futures all end badly. I don't want Parallel 6 to be the new Parallel 1.”
 +
 +“But you were willing to kill yourself in order to change your fate! I... I've never been that determined. Things go right for me too often. I don't see the people behind the scenes who sacrifice themselves for me. Like I didn't see what Kay was about to do before it happened...”
 +“I don't know. You tried to pick a fight with two Garians and a Snakebird. And then you tried to surrender halfway through the battle. I wouldn't have the balls to do that.”
 +
 +They both laughed. Garian-2 was catching up now. Garian-1 was losing the motive to actually compete. He just wanted to experience the game, its flow, the music. He only tried to stay in the game for the sake of continuing the game. He didn't want what could possibly be his last ever game of Love Love Mini Racer to ever be over.
 +
 +“I was an idiot to try and die,” he said, “It would have been so... anticlimactic. There are so many little things in this world that I would have just lost, then and there. We have to finish this properly, Garian. Just like you never quit a game of Mini Racer early, even when you screw up, you're late and your score's gone to shit. You have to take it to its climax. You never know, you might even make up for lost time.”
 +
 +“Hey, Garian...”
 +
 +“Yeah?”
 +
 +“There's really not much between it, is there?” said Garian-2, “Maybe we should just settle this over the game. The winner gets chosen for the True Ending.”
 +
 +“Hey, you can't decide that now! We're halfway through the game already! I would have played more seriously if I knew there were stakes!”
 +
 +“You're only saying that 'cause you're losing!”
 +
 +“At least make it best of three, okay?”
 +
 +“Well... any excuse to play for longer.”
 +
 +They laughed out loud again, then they were silent. Their concentration was entirely on the game.
 
soh19.txt · Last modified: 2011/07/26 22:55 by doan
 
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