Thursday, June 6, 2013

10/15/12 - The Reclamation War - Epilogue

At first, there's just the silent darkness -- total and absolute.

The Dragon is unsure how long he's floating in it. Is it hours, or days? Weeks or months? Maybe even years?

He does not care. All sense of time and space have floated away, here in the black, and with it any anxieties or fears he might have had.

He cannot hear the constant communications of The Flier within his mind, anymore. He cannot feel the rush of the winds on his body, or sense the power as it courses through him. He cannot sense the movements of those who work and toil within the aircraft he has become.

And, most disconcertingly of all, he can no longer feel the presence of the Imago within him, or sense that his Leader is near, anymore.

A lesser mind could have gone mad from this sudden, all-encompassing disconnection -- especially when he wonders how he got here, and flashes back to what little memory remains of the epic battle he just lost. Anyone else might be screaming in the hopes of being heard by some higher power, or gibbering in terror at the thought that this is death, and there's nothing awaiting but an eternity of black.

But he is no sad little soul, left to wander unawares in the world. He is The Dragon.

And he realizes that he may have finally achieved the perfect moment of Zen that accompanies the removal of all needs, desires, and distractions.

He gets the sense that he had been striving towards something, at the end of his life. Perhaps this is what he would have found at the end of that striving, perhaps not. But if this final, darkened silence is to be his new reality, then he can both accept and be content within it.

He can simply be.

Of course, that's when everything goes wrong.

At first, he's not sure where the light is coming from. There is a weird flickering in front of him, and that brings with it both awareness and pain.

The light solidifies, and with it the agony. Horizontal lines unfold, like an old television warming up. Shapes slowly resolve themselves, flickering and crackling.

(He has a flashback to a scene from that one, terrible western movie he watched along with SPYGOD, that one time, while pretending to be his lover. Only that was played for laughs. This makes him feel dread, once more.)

There is a brightness, sharp and painful, and then he's seeing things, once more. He sees a vast and ruined -- and eerily silent -- landscape: toppled stone temples and buildings, strewn with smoking heaps of twisted metal. Smokeless fires burn out of control, here and there, and men and women in garish, metal suits lie broken under the Sun.

Beyond it all is an ocean, roiling and vast. In that ocean he can see things moving around, just under its surface, or bobbing just above it. Wondrous and terrible things, seemingly born from nightmares inspired by the unknown depths of the wet below.

Just out of his field of vision -- which he cannot change, for he cannot move -- stands a great, white colossus, somehow standing upon the ocean, yet not going up or down with its waves. Its fists are caked with burning debris, and its baleful gaze sees all things at once.

His vision shifts again, as though someone were moving his head. And then someone is. He is picked up by hands, lifted up, and shown the rest of the landscape around him.

And at last he realizes what he is seeing, and cries out silently, in massive, Nirvana-dispelling despair.

The Lost City of the Imago is destroyed -- cracked and broken, shattered and flattened. Massive War Spawn drive their tentacles and pincers into what little remains, and pull out limp and passive Imago to shove into their massive, toothy maws.

And all around the ruin lies the sorry, smoking remnants of what was once The Flier -- what was once him. Heaps of metal and plastic smolder and buckle, and except for the occasional twitch or shudder, there is no sign of it trying to put itself back together again.

The Flier is dead. His body is gone.

And The Dragon cannot feel anything.

At some point, he wonders why he's still being held aloft. Then the hands that are keeping him up put him down on the ground, and turn him back to face their owner.

It's SPYGOD, of course.

He's still naked, and doesn't have so much as a scratch on him. He must have healed all that damage from earlier, and for that The Dragon curses him.

He's smiling, too, but it's not the kind smile, or the happy smile, or the "let's !@#$" smile. It's the smile he gives those he's just utterly and completely beaten, just before delivering the coup de grace.

The death smile. 

He's talking, SPYGOD is, but The Dragon cannot hear any of it. His eyes are working -- probably reconnected by his former lover -- but the ears are out of action, and probably strewn over a nearby heap, or buried under it.

As such, he does not hear the man say what he needs to say at this moment, though he can make out a few words, here and there. "Nice try," is one key phrase, as are "stupid," "evil," "alien," and "!@#$heads."

At some point, he stops rattling off insults and accusations, and just looks at him. When he starts up again, he seems almost tender, but The Dragon knows this is not directed at him. It's directed at the man The Dragon once was -- the dying, Chinese super-spy who foolishly threw in with GORGON in the hopes of gaining a new, healthy body, and eventually betraying them for his own purposes.

That one had no idea that the uploading procedure killed as it copied. He had no inkling, until it was too late, that the process made a new being: one made up of the memories of the original, but the mind and soul of an Imago.

And then one Dragon was dead and gone -- dust on the ground of the house they'd imprisoned him in --- and a new Dragon was alive and well, and ready to be put into action.

SPYGOD knows this, now (though how, exactly, is unknown). And now that he's no longer interested in mourning the man he loved -- at least for now -- he's gone back to excoriating The Dragon for having been born from that dead man's ashes. He's raging, screaming, frothing at the mouth. He's shaking his fists and shrieking, his face a mere inch away from whatever The Dragon is using to see with.

The Dragon cannot reply to this, any more than he can hear. He can only watch, helplessly, and wonder when the man who's beaten him will finally get it over with.

Or will he? This is the first time a takeover of the entire world has succeeded so well for so long. Will The Dragon be captured, then? Will he be nursed back to health, to some degree, and then put on trial? Will he be refitted and rebuilt, just to be torn down and executed for his role in things?

For a moment, he imagines himself on the witness stand -- proud and defiant. He will have nothing to say but the truth, and nothing to offer for defense except for the simple fact that he wanted to save his species from captivity, and then from the certain annihilation this planet will soon experience at the hands of (UNINTELLIGIBLE CONCEPT)

He will proudly go to whatever guillotine they might make for him. He will stare into the executioner's eyes for only so long, and then stare into the distance, noble in death.

He did what he did for love, and let that be his epitaph.

He's so wrapped up in that thought that he almost loses track of SPYGOD's harangue. When he catches up, he realizes that the man isn't screaming or yelling, anymore. He's stepping back a few paces and putting his hands on his hips.

He's saying something about drinks, now. "Whiskey," "vodka," and "Scotch." "Beer," "beer," and more "beer."

And something about not having a chance to visit the bathroom since he left Tokyo...

The Dragon gasps and tries to protest what's about to happen, but he can't. He can only watch as SPYGOD reaches down, takes hold of his impossible genitals -- now unrolling just like a horse's penis -- and unleashes a heavy, steady, firehose-stream of caustic, smoking god-urine right into The Dragon's face.

It's like being washed away by a breaking, yellow tsunami at first, and then, for the first time since his Flier-body was smashed into the Lost City, he can at last feel pain. A horrible, nauseating, burning sensation as the !@#$ rushes through his eye sockets and begins to melt his living brain.

And as he feels his memories and hopes and dreams turn to runny, bloody mush in his skull -- reliving the same agony the real Dragon went through, in his last moments of life -- he can actually hear SPYGOD's black and mocking laughter, following him down into whatever true fate now awaits the likes of him.

* * *

And so -- as he sees nothing at all, ever again -- The Dragon does not see the world as it crawls back up into the light at the end of this black and red day.

He does not see common humanity rising up from fear and flight to retake their lives -- attacking those that would have killed them with any weapons they can bring to bear. He does not witness men, women, and precocious children smashing the skulls of the fallen, lest they get back up again and kill some more.

Today is not a good day to be merciful to a fallen foe.

He does not see what little remains of the strange armies his alien brothers and sisters fought against, and how they try to celebrate in the wake of this narrowest of victories. The term "Phyric" is used more than once, by some commanders who suffered much worse than others. And as for the spies who helped arrange these armies, most are simply too tired and weary to label it anything other than victory.

Today is not a good day to examine the costs too closely.

He does not see the sad, battered remnants of the heroes and strategic talents that SPYGOD and his mysterious "leader" assembled. Around the world, they stagger and stretch, wondering if this really is all over, or if they need to remain vigilant still. Some cheer, some cry, and some can only collapse in pure exhaustion, or else stare into the distance -- their minds broken from slaughter and loss.

Today is not a good day to feel like a hero.

He does not see the American President cheering and whooping it up from the safety of The B.U.I.L.D.I.N.G. in Neo York City, alternating between thanking his God and having some of Old Ben's special victory brew. He does not see how hard Ben Franklin is working to avoid saying something pithy or wise, now, knowing that it's best to let this man have this moment, as the sobering reality of what's to come will be painful enough.

Today is not a good day to be a leader of what little is left.

He does not see a group of demoralized men and women who could only stand by helplessly as the boy they fought tooth and nail to save from a monster dies under their watch -- his mind absorbed by a machine that seemed unwilling to do anything but kill his body. He does not see the disgusting thing that has just happened elsewhere in that building, while they struggled to save that boy, or the strange change that has just come over the city around them.

Today is not a good day to have not known the shape of the future.

He does not see the monster in human shape that his people bargained with, so many years ago, as he carefully slinks from these changes, unseen and unheard. He does not see that this person is still aroused from the ghastly and bloody horror he has created with his hands, a knife, and his genitals. He does not know this man's plans, or the terrible things he's about to do in their name.

Today is not a good day to be in the way of those who would shape the future.

He does not see a so-called outlaw journalist as he cries, holding the dead body of a woman he'd come to love. Neither of them saw as she walked between him and the weapon that was meant to take his life as he watched history happen, and how she did it with the certainty that comes from being in the right place at the right time. He does not see his allies and friends as they carry on the recording in his name, mourning both that loss and many, many more on this day.

Today is not a good day to have been focusing only on the big picture, and not seeing the small details.

He does not see one of the newly-minted heroes as she staggers downtown, amazed that she's still alive. He does not see the red-suited girl is so much in shock that she's having a hard time realizing how many of the new friends she made today, in battle, were not as lucky. He does not see up above her, on a tall building, where a young boy in a poorly-fitting, blue and white costume bleeds out from his nose and mouth, having given his all to keep a strange woman sniper alive. He does not see that the woman is long gone, having spared that boy's noble sacrifice next to no thought over the need to get away unseen.

Today is not a good day to have been called to one's destiny.

He does not see another group of demoralized men and women, as far South as one can get from Neo York City. He does not see a man stare at the blood on his blistered hands as he kneels in a dark hallway full of dead genetic experiments, too stunned at the events of the day to take it all in. He does not see the no-longer-hidden leader of the resistance as he waits for news from the outside world, somehow knowing that the greater parts of his plan have worked, but also knowing that many smaller and painful failures and oversights have yet to be tallied up.

And he does not see the self-proclaimed master magician of Earth as he kneels by one of those oversights -- the  brutalized body of the President's daughter -- and is unable to assuage the anguish of her mother or younger sister because there is nothing he can do, now.

Today is not a good day to have been too late to do anything.

He does not see what little remains of Alpha Base Seven, and the sorry, imploded remnants of its once-considerable crew -- brought down by fear, jealousy, and motives that may never be fully understood. He does not see the shattered remnants of a lunar escape pod, tumbling slowly back towards Earth in time with the expanding wave of debris from what was once Earth's best defense, and then its worst enemy. He does not see the small remnant of the man that destroyed that defense, barely kept alive by what little power his craft has left to give.

Today is not a good day to have been willing to sacrifice everything for the cause.

Nearer to him, The Dragon does not see a pair of men entwined together on the molecular level, shivering in and out of phase with reality as they fight to come back to it, step by step. Nor does he see the wreck of a repurposed Nazi flying saucer -- itself repurposed from alien technology -- as it falls to the bottom of the Pacific, trailing debris behind it. Amongst the things falling down are full bottles of vodka, a silken, never-cleaned cat pillow that says "Бегемот," and an AK-47.

Today is not a good day to have been along for the ride on a plan too uncertain to write down. 

He does not see a taciturn man inside a great, white robot as he howls in despair, crying his eyes out over what he sees on the screen. He does not see the burning, mangled horror that is the center of Tokyo, and the giant pile of dead Imago that dominates its center. He does not see an android that looks like a young girl lying atop that heap -- her head at a strange angle, her eyes dark and blank.

Today is not a good day to have risked what you loved in the name of a greater duty.

He does not see a gloriously ugly robot finally return to her secret, underground base, only to find it completely bare. He does not see that all of her work is gone, all of her tools are taken, all of her Slaughterbots have disappeared. He does not see that all that remains are ten words, carefully painted on the wall by the most dangerous woman in the world:



Today is not a good day to have been reckless in planning, or untrue with one's allies.

He also does not see, in a pocket reality, a metal monster screaming as it realizes that it has no way to return to our world, and gain its revenge upon SPYGOD for the crime of existing. He does not see that the exotic components in the machine it became have burned out from the strain it put itself under, trying to follow where its targets went. He does not see its comatose, meat body lying dead in a sorry splatter of blood, bone, and feeding tubes in Dubai -- a victim of the push and pull of fighting that took place there, earlier this day.

(Today is not a good day to have been a mentally !@#$ed-up supervillain, either, it would seem.)

And The Dragon does not see the living, either.

He does not see families as they reunite and thank their Gods that they have survived. He does not see communities band together to clean up the mess, put out their fires, and tend to their wounded. He does not see leaders come back out to gather their people, or new ones step forward to be counted in the moment of need.

He does not see old friends and new allies as they clasp hands, grateful for the presence and aid of one another. He does not see the brotherhood that comes with war as it transforms the hearts of many people around the world -- setting aside old hatreds and rivalries, and creating in their place the hope for a new beginning. He does not see that the peace he and his people had falsely peddled has finally come around, at least for some.

He does not see that humanity has survived yet another attempt to subjugate, enslave, harvest, and kill it. He does not see that, while there are tears and sadness, there is also joy and hope. He does not see that from these ashes, this world can arise again -- perhaps stronger and better than the last time.

He does not see the story of human survival as it is written once again.

But he does see that today was not a good day to have been the cause of all this sorrow, destruction, and death -- for as long as it takes him to die from being !@#$ed on, anyway.

SPYGOD laughs. The pain recedes into a speck of memory. Everything goes well and truly black.

And then-

(SPYGOD is listening to Black Celebration (Depeche Mode) and having a Black Death Beer )

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