Wednesday, April 3, 2013

10/14/12 - Something Could Change - Pt. 2

"One of the Overlanders tried to teach me the concept of 'irony,' once," Emperor Thurl says as he scuttles the room of Seven Jaws, occasionally looking from its central parapet to hear if something's started yet: "Tell me truly, Blue and Yellow -- are you familiar with the concept?"

Blue and Yellow tries to say something, but really can't. She's discovered why the room bears its name, and is pinned between three of the seven sets, gasping in pain.

"Oh, I do truly apologize," the boy-Emperor says, scuttling closer to her and extending his hands in what might be a warm gesture: "You must be in too much distress to talk. I imagine the field that keeps you from being crushed by the waterweight is close to breaking, much as even the hardiest shell must break when firm and steady pressure is applied."

"Kill you..." Blue and Yellow hisses, trying to fire her eyebeams. They will not come, but make her eyes glow menacingly for a second.

"But we were speaking of this 'irony,'" Thurl continues, bending his eyestalks down to look her in the face: "The fellow who spoke to me, one of the Germans, spent a long time trying to teach me the meaning of this idea. But we do not recognize this concept, here in the Kingdom. We had enough of a problem understanding a 'desert,' I think you call them?"

The Imago ceases her struggles as the Emperor gets closer. He thinks he knows what she intends to do, but that is fine, as he knows his own intentions.

"However, we do have a story that we tell our strongspawn, so they might grow in both mind and form. It is the story of the small and the large. Would you like to hear it?"

The Imago tries once more to break free, just as he expected. Thurl sighs and gestures, his crown jewels trailing behind his hand, and yet another set of jaws clamps down on his captive.

The blow doesn't cut so much as pulverize, and droplets of blood spurt from her lips, somehow escaping from her force field and leaking out into the water. The smelltaste makes Thurl want to end this conversation and do something much more final and toothy to her, but he denies himself the pleasure.

For the moment, anyway.

"Well, perhaps you have no time for such a lesson, Blue and Yellow," the Emperor says, sitting down before her as the seatmollusks form him a throne: "But I must thank you. In all my lives, I had never been able to understand what this 'Irony' meant. And then you came amongst us, and we learned.

"You see, if you had not come here, after you took control of the Overland, we would have left you alone. If you had simply stayed up there, and tended to the Overland, we would not have come looking for you. We would have been grateful that the Overobligation was ended, and the Great Mistake forgiven by default. But you would have heard nothing from us.

"And even when you rose the City of Darkness from the Wet of the Other Kingdom, and took it above the Barrier and called it your home? Even then, I tell you truly, we would have stayed far from you. Farther still, I think I speak truly, for there are reasons that we fear it.

"But you came to us, Blue and Yellow. You and your Green and Orange friend, missing all these darks. You came to us and pretended friendship. You came to us and spoke of partnership. You came to us.

"And as soon as we learned what you were going to do, you threatened me."

Blue and Yellow gasps, her eyes starting from her skull. Not too long, now.

"If you had stayed where you were, we would have sought nothing more with the Overland. We would have left you to it. What use have we for it?

"But you had to come here and try to control us. You had to become our enemy. You had to threaten the life of my father -- my life.

"And in doing so, I tell you truly that you taught us the lesson that we have been too slow to learn for too long. That I, in all my formlives, have been too stupid to learn.

"I have learned that ours is one planet, Blue and Yellow. The Wet and the Dry are two sides of the same rock. One cannot exist without the other. And those who live in one must be allies with the other.

"And so, we will be allies with the Overlanders, once more. And I tell you truly, Blue and Yellow, that makes you our enemy. But we would never have learned this, or known that, unless you had come to us.

"So now, I truly understand irony."

The Emperor gently reaches towards the Imago's head with his claws. She tries to struggle and get away, but each movement is agony, and makes the collapse of her personal shielding more pronounced. Already the metal on her chest and arms is beginning to buckle.

"And now, I would know what you know, Blue and Yellow," the Emperor says, preparing to crack her skull open: "Do not worry. This will not be like the Deathlifedreamsleep. You will not be conscious, and I will not take you inside myself, as I did my father, as he did his father before him.

"I simply want to know what you have planned, so that I might tell my new Overlander ally, when next we speak on the new communicator he has given us."

And as the Emperor feasts, and learns, there is a deep, booming noise, far away from the citadel. It is a sound that has not been heard for many formlives, given the nature of the Overobligation. But all of the Kingdom know what it is, and what it means, and they instantly drop what they are doing and either prepare to go to into battle, or to take cover from it.

The Warspawn are hatching. The Kingdom will strike.

And woe be unto their enemies.

* * *

Mikhail: So, where do we now stand, my friends?

Dosha: I haven't been able to talk to my government, unfortunately. However, I have been able to talk to the provisional government in exile in Pakistan and the people claiming to be in charge of Bangladesh. And they are in agreement, and willing to contribute.

Jose: Where the !@#$ is your government, Dosha?

Dosha: Where they've always been in times like this, Jose. In hiding. Just like you. 

Mikhail: Can we please be dispensing with the insults? Jose comes to us with good news. 

Khalil: He does? So far all we have heard are words from someone I have never met. 

Jose: There is a reason for that, pendejo.

Dr. Krwi: There is? SPYGOD always told me that you prided yourself on showing up to these things late, just for a joke 

Jose: And who is this? 

Dr. Krwi: The man who just got most of Eastern Europe to sign in with our efforts, sir.

Mikhail: Jose, this is Dr. Krwi, a man of many talents and much experience with insurgencies. 

Jose: I'll believe it when I see it. 

Khalil: Please! We have no time for this. 

Dosha: Agreed. Jose, please accept my apologies. If your organization can help, I will gladly shake your hand and call you an ally. 

Jose: Oh, I can do more than that. I have managed to talk our government into allying with a number of other governments in Central and South America. We have not gotten everyone, yet, but the people there are furious at what has happened. 

Khalil: As are several African nations. But the partnership is very tenuous. A number of the new governments aren't keen to work with their old allies, and some of the countries have more than one party claiming leadership. This is going to be a logistical nightmare. 

Mikhail: And if you think that's a nightmare, you should see the state that Russia is in! But I have played the right cards, I think. I spoke to the military, rather than the government. And they are quite prepared to come to our side. 

Dr Krwi: What about Japan? Do we know what bargain SPYGOD struck with Ju Kikan? 

Dosha: He told me he got a giant favor, but wouldn't go into specifics. Just like the bhen chod. 

Dr. Krwi: That sounds like him. And of course Mister 10 will not speak to us directly. 

Dosha: Of course not. I take it you've had some experience with him? 

Dr. Krwi: When I would hunt in Japan I needed to get permission from that group's predecessors. It was never easily given, or arranged. And all the time I felt as though they might try and kill me.

Mikhail: Very well. then we seem to have as much as we can have. So now it is merely a matter of waiting.

Khalil: I'm not very comfortable with that. Did SPYGOD say when we should tell our people to move? 

Dosha: No, but he said we'd know it when we saw it.  

Dr. Krwi: And, knowing him, that is as much of a warning as we are going to get. 

Dosha: Agreed. Speaking of warnings, Doctor, I couldn't help but notice you crossing yourself at the meeting, the other day. What is the contingency plan you are so afraid of? 

Dr. Krwi: I do not wish to speak of it. With any luck, you will never know. It is bad enough that I know. 

Mikhail: Now, Doctor, we promised each other no secrets. 

Dr. Krwi: Yes, we did, didn't we? Then I hope you'll eventually forgive me for having said nothing.  

(Dr. Krwi Leaves)

Dosha: That could not have been good.  

Mikhail: No, it could not. Khalil, do you have any idea what he could be talking about? 

Khalil: None, but I am not certain of that. I keep thinking there is something I am forgetting. Something about SPYGOD I either know or need to let him know. But what it could be? I have no idea. 

Dosha: Do you feel as though someone has tampered with your memory? 

Khalil: It is just possible. I suggest for the sake of security we do not talk again, like this, until this war is over and done with.  

Mikhail: I think it the wisest course of action, my friend. And good luck to us all. We who are normally men of the shadows are going to have to step out into the light, for a time. I can only hope we can withstand that scrutiny.
* * *
 "So how do I look?" the President asks for the fifth time in as many minutes, adjusting his tie and running a hand through his hair.

"I think you look like a man who could use a drink," Ben says, handing the man a very large glass of beer: "I insist. If you fret any more, you will look worse than Richard Nixon did that one time he debated Jack Kennedy on television."

"Well, I could use some makeup," the President says, but takes the beer all the same, giving it an appreciative sip: "!@#$, that... that is some good stuff, Ben."

"Glad you like it. Old recipe of mine. I brewed it in anticipation of victory, and there's ten kegs downstairs, so you better deliver."

The old man smiles and looks at him over his glasses. The President just smiles back, uncertain whether to trust this man or not. He walks and talks just like he always imagined Ben Franklin would, but his conversation topics and ribald anecdotes are so disturbing that he's having a hard time believing this man was ever a Founding Father.

But he's the one with the camera, and the B.U.I.L.D.I.N.G., and a few other things besides, so he figures he should give him the benefit of the doubt.

"Where did that cat go, anyway?" The President asks, hoping to change the topic.

"Probably !@#$ed off to the penthouse to check on his vodka stores," Ben replies, checking the camera again, and then turning back to the multitude of screens behind him: "Poor pussy's been having to drink poor man's potatoes for the last year, since he took it on the lam."

"So he can fly a spaceship, shoot a gun, and drink SPYGOD under the table?"

"Oh, that's nothing. That !@#$able creature can drink me under the table. And that is saying something, if you don't mind my saying so."

"Where did he get that cat?"

"Oh, now there's a story," Ben says, and then gets distracted by something he sees: "Randolph, this is Ben. You need to get more televisions over to the North part of the island. There's not enough coverage over there."

In a second, Randolph Scott's face appears on the screen, with one of his conspirators behind him: "I'm working on it, Ben. I'm trying to get some last-minute interviews with the post-bridge refugees, first."

"Well, get someone on it, !@#$ it. The Third American revolution is about to take place and I'm not going to miss my moment in the sun because you were too busy asking them who their favorite musical group is!"

"That's not what I'm asking them, Ben-"

"Just a second," the President asks, getting up and looking at the screen: "That man behind him. Excuse me? Aren't you...?"

The man behind Randolph looks at him, and then dominates the screen. It's been some time since they've seen each other, but the recognition is instantaneous.

"Hello, Mr. President" Jess Friend says, nodding and smiling: "I'm very glad to see you, again."

"I'm glad to see you, too," the President says.

"I'm sorry I couldn't have saved you, sir. I tried, but..."

"Hey, son?" the President says, tearing up a little: "I don't know if you know this, but I saw you kick in the door and try to stop what was happening, just before they transported me away. That gave me hope that someone might come to rescue me. And that hope's what kept me alive over there. 

"So yes, Agent Friend. You did save me. And thank you for that."

"Well, not an Agent anymore," Jess says, holding up the hand they had to reconstruct: "They kind of blamed me for the whole thing."

"Really?" the President says: "Well, when this is all over? You come and find me, and we'll set the record straight. It's time your talents were recognized, don't you think?"

"I can't disagree," Randolph says: "And when this is all done and over with? You and me need to have a talk, too, sir. Your Vice President made me swear to pass along a few things, the night before he died. I'd like to keep that promise."

"Then we'll do that," the President says: "Go make us proud, guys."

With that the screen goes blank, and Ben Franklin nods and claps the President on the shoulder: "Spoken like a true leader."

"Third American Revolution, huh?" the President says, looking at the older fellow.

"Ah, well," Ben says, going back to his screens: "Nice thing about our country, my good President. We may never fully agree on the lyrics, but the song always remains the same."

A while -- and a few beers -- later, the President realizes that his host just skillfully forestalled an argument, which was probably for the best. Right now wasn't the time for people for fall apart.

Not when the whole world was about to come back together. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Words (Missing Persons) and having some of Ben Franklin's own)

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