Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Age of Imago - June - Pt. 3

It has been an excellent dark for Emperor Thurl, up until the time he receives the news that all but destroys his world.

He rose from a fine dreamsleep, and was roused, enticed, and dressed by a specially-trained pleasure school. He devoured a truly excellent meal, regurgitated from the belly of the best food preparer in the entire Kingdom. He watched his numerous spawn scuttle through their creche, wondering which of them would be the one to wear the crown jewels, one day.

Later, he met a delegation from the Lower Cold, eager to trade their strange science for things that were commonplace in Thurl's domain, but quite rare in theirs. Of course, he said he would truly consider it, but he'd already made up his mind to give them half again of what they asked for, as a sign of good faith. To do otherwise would be stingy, and do shame to his Kingdom.

While he "thought," he strode the length of his castle, scuttling along walkways of stonebone and peering over the parapets at his people, who toiled and swam below. He allowed himself a small, satisfied moment of happiness -- allowing himself to think, for one moment, that maybe things had truly changed.

And then came that thought's sorry ruination.

"My Emperor, accept my submission, and forgive my intrusion," his most trusted adviser says to him, scuttling low and in submission.

"It is always accepted, and always forgiven," Thurl says: "What do you come to tell me? Have the delegation from the Cold come back to ask after my decision?"

"No, Emperor. They are still being shown the Grotto of the Great One, and the many wonders that live and die within it. This is not a diplomatic matter. This is... this is..."

The Emperor scuttles around, concerned. In all the Lightchanges he's been served by this one, he has never been at a loss for words.

"What has happened? I bid you speak truly and without fear."

"I would never speak untruly, my Emperor. But now I cannot help but feel fear. A messenger from the Other Kingdom has come, and this Lowest brings terrible news."

"What news is this?"

"The... the City of Darkness. I tell you truly that the messengers reports that it has been risen from below the Wet, and brought up to the Overland."

Thurl feels his hearts stop beating for a moment: "Do you mean the Black Island? Is the Beast awake?"

"No, my Emperor. So far as I know, that being still deathsleeps, praise be the Mother. I speak of the City of Darkness. That which was old while we were young. That which was hidden after the last Overapocalypse. That which was not to be disturbed, ever."

"I... I truly speak that I am shocked," the Emperor says: "I had only thought that to be a story. I knew that the structure was there, but thought that the legend was meant to keep the curious away from what cannot be understood."

"I also speak truly that I thought the same. But the legend appears to be real. It has been risen. Their entire Kingdom has been thrown into cataclysm by its violent surfacing, which is why it has taken them so long to reach us."

"Who could have done this?" the Emperor demands: "Who could have made this legend come true? The Overlanders do not have the knowledge. They may have had the key, all this time, but they did not know what it unlocked. There could be no way for them to know!"

"My Emperor, I do not know the answer to how they knew. But according to what little remains of their Highest, the Imago have made the City of Darkness their home."

Thurl stops all motion. He puts out all his arms to brace himself against the parapet, but then succumbs to the despair in his soul and sits down upon the stonebone. And he is still and quiet for quite some time.

"You spoke of your fears that they were of two faces, my adviser," he says at last: "I see now you spoke more truly than you knew."

"What shall we do?" the adviser asks.

"We shall..." the Emperor begins to say, and then falls silent. He looks up above, now all too conscious, once again, of the threat it holds for he and his people.

"We shall do nothing, for now," Thurl continues: "Have the messengers devoured. Silence any who saw or spoke with them. And bring me all legends regarding the City of Darkness. We must arm ourselves with knowledge."

"At once," the adviser says, and scuttles away to perform these unpleasant but unavoidable tasks.

And it is only once that most high and trusted servant is well out of hearing range that Thurl allows himself to weep in utter despair.

* * *


Hey Dagworth!

Listen, man, I got your reply to my last letter, and I have to say that I'm pretty !@#$ing ashamed to admit that I couldn't crack the code, this time. Is this something you came up with on your own? I am kind of outclassed here, my friend. Please give me a !@#$ing hint?

Anyways, things around here have gone boobs up in a sea of !@#$, as my mother would say. You remember the night we got told things weren't real, on the Fifteenth? Well, I could have !@#$ing told them that, but you should have seen the people around here. For a whole day you never heard so many jokes or really !@#$ing !@#$ed off people in your life.

Of course, next day the internet was back up and everyone went back to being dumb as !@#$. But it's good to know that, whatever got done to these people, it ain't permanent, and there's a !@#$ing cure.  

Speaking of which, I've started writing to some  other SPYGOD SCOUTS (In code, of course. I'm no !@#$ing dummy) to see if they can find out what !@#$ing happened to the special ed kids in their state. I figure if we can work together, we might be able to get a better idea of what the !@#$ happened, here. 

Anyway, you take care, man. Hopefully I'll crack your new !@#$ing code before too long, here.



ps: Which Star Trek's your favorite? I'll show you my Enterprise if you show me yours ;)

* * *

"So, you ready to talk about it?" 

Myron looks at his interviewer, leans forward in his chair, and lights up a cigarette: "No. I don't think I'll ever really be !@#$ing ready. But..."
"But here you are," Randolph says, holding out a cigarette of his own for his subject to light, which he does.

"Here I am. Yeah."

Normally, they wouldn't be able to smoke, here, in this fine, Toronto restaurant. But tonight no one knows they're there: Randolph, his many friends, helpers, and guards, and Myron are all invisible, today. 
And they have Myron to thank for it. Sort of.

"So, they walked into your cell," Randolph, tapping his notepad with his pen: "They took hold of you, and began to try and Embrace you. What went wrong?"

"I don't really know," Myron says: "One second I'm in incredible pain, and then I'm on the ground, covered in what's left of the !@#$er that was supposed to become me. The Imago dragged his sorry !@#$ out of the room, and they looked... well, they looked scared." 

"And how did that make you feel?"

He thinks for a moment: "!@#$ing weird. I got up and cleaned myself off, and everyone was cheering me on. And then it hit me that I was really still alive, and I started laughing. Then crying. And then I had the best sleep I'd had since the whole thing started."

"And the next day, they tried again?"

"Yep. Brought a whole new Falseface into the room. Held me down. Gave me the speech. I screamed and tried to resist but I couldn't, and then I blacked out, and then, BOOM - dead Falseface. Skull and circuitry all over me. And then they're running away, again, and this time they look even more scared."

"What did you do?"

"Well, I figured the first time might have been a lucky fluke. The second time might have been more luck. But the third time would have been a pattern, and I think after that they'd probably just !@#$ing kill me and take me apart to see what the !@#$ happened. So I decided I wasn't going to give them a third time."

"How did you do it?"

"Well," Myron says, gesturing with his fingers and putting the cigarette in his mouth: "I did two things. The first thing I did was collect all the circuits I could. The first falseface's were a total wash, because I was stupid and in shock and got them off me with water from the sink. But this time, I had more."

"And you thought you could just make a weapon...?"

"Hey, I got the original Underman's sorry-!@#$ drilltank up and running, Randolph. I built an anti-GORGON device from spare parts and junk from my bits box. And we're having dinner here right under their !@#$ noses thanks to something I made when I had a lot more time. I'm not exactly a slouch when it comes to electrical engineering on the fly."

"So did you make that weapon, then?"

"Eh, sort of," Myron admits: "I realized, maybe halfway through trying to make another off switch for them, that I didn't have good parts. And I also realized that I wasn't sure if an off switch would work on the Imago. They are the same, but I don't think they share the same exact technology. There's something more advanced at work, here."

"Similar, but not the same."

"Exactly. So I decided that the best weapon I could make, under the circumstances, was a horn to call in the !@#$ cavalry. I made a clicker for a certain someone, before, so I just made a small version of it and kept it on-"


"Blind communicator. You make a pair of buttons, and have them fixed so that when one is depressed, the other clicks. That way you can tell someone you're ready for help without having to actually call and say the words. And if someone finds it in your pocket, it just looks like a doo-dad until they pry it open. Handy little things."

"So what did you do?"

"Well, I made one, fine-tuned it to the right frequency, and then hooked it up to the light socket in my cell. It sent out a steady click for three hours before it finally burned out."

"And then?"

Myron smiles: "And then the !@#$ing cavalry arrived."

"It must be nice having friends who can teleport."

"Oh, you have no !@#$ing idea," Myron says, stubbing out his cigarette and getting another: "They came in, got me out. I tried to get them to get everyone else down there out, too, but the !@#$ing Imago teleported in not long after they did. We were lucky to get out as it was."

"Did you leave anyone behind?"

Myron sighs, looks askance, and shakes his head: "No. One of my friends was there, with me, for a while. But..."

He doesn't finish the thought. Randolph respects his silence.

"So they got me out," Myron continues after a long pause (and a tear or two): "And they hid me for a few days. I got shuttled around from safehouse to safehouse. Lots of people wanted to talk to me about what happened, what I'd seen, what I knew. What happened in the White House on 3/15. They told me about the trials and... !@#$. It just makes me sick. I was this close to saving him. This !@#$ing close..."

He stops talking, puts his head in his hands, and sobs. Randolph lets him, and turns off the tape recorder.

"I got the last interview with the President, the night before they executed him," Randolph says: "I couldn't rescue him. If I did, they'd have killed his entire family, and the families of every other person they'd killed up to that point. That's how they got them to lie and act along. They were saving their own children and loved ones."

"I heard," Myron says, wiping some of the tears away: "I know. But !@#$ it, I should have been smarter. I should have been faster..."

"He spoke very highly of you and Colonel Richter," Randolph responds, putting a hand on his shoulder and looking him in the eye: "He knew that you did everything you could to try and save him. But the game was up the moment they got to his wife, Myron. You'd have tried to rescue his wife, too, and they'd have tracked you everywhere you went. There was nothing you could have done but tried. And you did."

"I still feel like a failure," Myron says: "I sat in a !@#$ing cell and tried to dream myself to death. I still don't know why the !@#$ they couldn't make me one of them. I keep feeling like someone cut me a break that I don't !@#$ing deserve."

"Because that never !@#$ing happens in this business, ever," Randolph says, patting the misshapen back of his head: "Don't look at it as a break, Myron. Look at it as an opportunity. You've been spared one death to go have another, and maybe, just maybe, between then and now you can kick !@#$ you don't even know about yet."

Myron looks askance: "That's... not very comforting."

"No, but it's how I get through my days," Randolph says: "Shall we continue?"

"Oh, yes," Myron says: "But can I get a !@#$ing beer, first? I've forgotten what they taste like, and !@#$ do I need a drink."

"Totally," Randolph says, waving to one of his cohorts: "We shouldn't have done this dry in the first place..."

"I agree," Myron replies: "And when you're out of tape in that recorder, I want to know what you have been up to, Mr. Outlaw Journalist. And where the !@#$ is SPYGOD?"

Randolph sighs: "I keep wishing someone would !@#$ing tell me." 

(SPYGOD is listening to A Falling Star (John Foxx) and having an Expedition Stout)

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