Friday, March 14, 2014

12/31/12 - All the Faces That I Make and All the Shapes That I Throw - pt 3

9:37 PM

"I tell you truly, it is an honor to be here, meeting you," one of the Kingdom's lobster-like ambassadors says, her weird, glubbling speech translated by the wet, living things she wears to maintain pressure and atmosphere.

"I am pleased to meet you as well, friend from Atlantis," the blue-green, reptilian ambassador from the Inside (otherwise known as Mars) says, his body relatively unencumbered but his motions unsteady under the heavier gravity: "I knew that the Third World had a civilization, down below its great Oceans. But I am amazed that we can actually meet, here and now."

"You're amazed?" a floating, scabby ball with a viewscreen asks -- displaying a strange, yellowish, crablike being on the other side -- "When you people finally met us you were just delighted. What are we, gravel?"

"My friend from the Second World has a strange sense of humor," the reptilian fellow says, clapping his paws together: "I hope you will pardon him, friend from Atlantis."

"I tell you truly, this is such an amazing time," the Kingdom's ambassador says: "That we are all finally coming together, here at this Lightchange ritual!"

"They call it a party," the scabby ball says: "At least, I hope this is just a party. If they start sacrificing smaller creatures I'm logging out."

"Yes, Friend from Atlantis, I think this is a party, though it does have its ritual elements," the Martian says, pointing around: "For example, I do believe there are many mating rituals going on, here, tonight."

"Yes, I do believe I noticed," the lobster says, watching as Fred and Antonia talk up a storm, over near a quiet corner. They've gotten quite physically close to each other, but don't seem to notice this is a bad thing, or that the world is going on around them.

"And a few breakups, too," the Venusan says, looking at where Mark and Skyspear are sitting, having a much less comfortable talk as their hero friends go elsewhere and leave them alone.

"Breakup?" the Kingdom's Ambassador asks: "I tell you truly, I am not sure what that means-"

Skyspear slaps Mark, gets up, and walks away. Mark sits there, stunned, and doesn't follow her.

"Oh, I think I understand, now," the lobster says: "Endmate."

"Yes," the Martian says: "I suspect we will see many interesting things, here, tonight."

"True," the ball says: "But let's talk something else while we're here. Does anyone have any !@#$ idea what the !@#$ is going on?"

"What do you mean?" the Atlantean asks, uncertain of what some of his more colorful words are.

"Well, all I know is that all the space people I talk to? Their new Space Service? Those guys up on the platform in the white?"

"Oh, the ones trying to reason with that large fellow in the strangely-colored shirt?" the Martian asks, watching as Faraj all but scoops Ju-San up under one arm and escorts him away from Hanami's side (not that the man's resisting too much, as he is clearly broken.)

"Yeah, them," the Venusan says: "They're all worried about this thing that's coming to Earth, pretty soon. Some big planet-eating thing, apparently. No one can say the name right, as far as I can tell."

"Oh, yes," the Martian says, nodding: "We know of this thing, friend from the Second World. It came once before, and though we were far from it, its passing made many changes to our world."

"Such as?" the Lobster asks.

"We call our world the Inside," the reptilian being explains: "Once, there was no Inside. We lived on the skin of our world, and it was a lush and green place, filled with water and plants and animals. All was well, and then... it came."

"And it's coming around again," the Venusan says: "Well, !@#$. What are they planning on doing about it?"

"I tell you truly, we will do what we can," the Atlantean says: "But I am not certain what we can offer that those above the Barrier do not already have."

"Maybe someplace to go when everything above the Barrier is destroyed," the Martian says, shaking its head sadly: "Once we lived outside, under the sky. Then the sky was taken from us, eaten by the Hunger from Above. Now we live on the Inside, with what little we could save. And we dream of stars and skies, and hope to one day return."

"Don't you have some kind of fleet to deal with things like this?" the Venusan asks: "I mean, we got ships. Not a lot, but we got 'em."

"We have survived only by remaining Inside, friend of the Second World," the Martian admits: "Convincing my government to help would be very difficult. Especially since this is the thing that destroyed our world the first time. The current wisdom is to be quiet, and let it roll past us."

"I tell you truly, and with respect, that such an action seems less than grateful to these Overlanders," the Atlantean says.

"It is not that we do not feel for them, friend from the Kingdom, but that we cannot risk our own survival as a race for them. We have no desire to see our world destroyed a second time. Would you be any different, in our place?"

"I tell you truly that I understand your concern. But you do not need to be seen to be helping to be helpful."

"Well, that sounds like a weird line," the scabby ball sighs.

"I mean to say," the Atlantean tries to explain: "Can you not even send your ships to stand with them at the edge of their sky? Surely the creature would have no way of knowing you had interfered?"

The Martian's about to say something, but then falls silent, and thinks.

"Ah, you see?" the Venusan says: "I told you these Atlanteans were smart. But did you listen to me?"

"I listen to you all the time, friend of the second world," the Martian says, clasping hands with the Ambassador from the Kingdom: "It impedes my ability to hear wisdom, at times. And I believe my friend from the Kingdom has just given it to me. For that, I thank him."

* * *

 9:55 PM

"... and then, well, she asked me if I knew how to have a good time," a well-dressed Ben Frankin -- long hair back in a ponytail -- says, gesturing insouciantly as he tells the story: "And I said that the only way I could show her was to show her. And she said 'oh really? Well, I tell you what, Mr. Franklin. I'm going up to my cottage for the weekend. Perhaps you'd care to come up for a night and discuss this with me?'

"And, well, I do believe that every husband she had since then was quite sad, as they never quite lived up to that positively torrid week we spent together, Norma Jean and I."

The crowd around the old man laughs and applauds, and he bows a little.

"You are such a !@#$ing ham," Jess Friend whispers into his ear as the group of Gay Republicans dissipates, just as some really kicking disco song comes on.

"Oh come now, Good Jess," the old man says, grinning and patting him on the arm: "It's a good story. It was even mostly true!"

"Which part?"

"Well, the important part," he says, gesturing to the bar: "Let us have more of this wonderful drink I've discovered, and then perhaps I can tell you of the difference between a full truth and a half truth, and which is more preferable when trying to impress and amaze others."

"I think someone we know would have something to say about that," Jess says, and then just happens to see that someone walking towards them, carrying a big bottle of water from the bar, and looking like he'd rather be tongue-bathing kitten !@#$holes to make them poop.

"Why, Mr. Scott," Ben says, reaching out a hand to shake his free one: "We were just invoking you, good sir. Would  you care to join us for a drink? I have discovered this amazing new cocktail-"

"Can't," Randolph says, trying to smile and raising the bottle: "I've been drafted to help play 'babysit the drunk superhero.'"

"Oh, Wayfinder's granddaughter?" Ben asks, looking over in the corner where the large, pink-haired woman is still helping to glower her down into a chair, and Myron is sitting next to her, trying to talk to her but not getting anywhere.

"Yeah, she started early and got worse," Randolph says: "So Josie, being Josie, got her stationary and started finding people who weren't having fun and, well..."

"You were voluntold," Jess says, pointing to the water.

"Oh yeah," he hoists the bottle up: "This is her second. She might need a couple more after this. And then someone's going to have to make sure she doesn't !@#$ herself."

"That can't be fun."

"No. And neither is waiting in line for a bottle of water. You'd think I asked them to !@#$ in a cup and drink it."

"Well, that's not for me," Ben says, laughing: "Jess, I will go and get our drinks. I shall return shortly, gentlemen..."

And off he strides, right up to the bar in spite of the line -- because he's Ben !@#$ing Franklin, that's why.

"So how's looking after our national treasure?" Randolph asks, watching the treasure in question operate.

"It's a full-time job," Jess says, smiling a little: "How's our kids?"

"They... left," Randolph says, sadly.



"What the !@#$ happened?"

"It's a long story."

"Are you okay?" Jess asks, putting a hand on the man's shoulder: "I mean, Jesus Christ. I thought you were all inseparable by this point."

"Well, you left, I guess they thought they could, too?"

The words leave Randolph's mouth before he knows what he's said, and then he's biting his tongue and not wanting to look his former partner in thoughtcrime in the eyes.

"Look," Jess sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"No, I shouldn't-" Randolph tries to say, waving his free hand.

"No, it's cool-"

"No, really," Randolph insists: "That was !@#$ing uncalled for. I know you got tapped to do this. And I know how important it was for you to do this. After everything that happened? You needed this."

"That's right," Jess says, nodding: "I did. And I thought you understood that."

"I do. I just... losing Helen, losing you, now losing them. I'm feeling pretty washed up, here."

"Yeah, I'll say," Jess replies: "You look like you went a few rounds with the Malort fairy."

"The what?"

"Oh God," Jess laughs: "You've never... oh man, whatever you do? Do not tell Ben you have never had Malort. He'll force you to have something so vile you'll never forgive yourself for having it."

"Can't be worse than this," Randolph says: "Anyway, listen. I think we need to talk-"

"Hey, Randolph!" a very loud voice shrieks from across the floor: "You coming with that !@#$ing bottle or what?"

"That's my cue!" Randolph says: "Coming, Josie!"

"But yes," Jess says, reaching out to shake his hand before he goes: "We do need to talk. And we will. If not tonight, then soon?"

"Yes," Randolph says, ignoring the hand and going for the hug, which lasts quite some time and almost ends in a kiss, but not quite. They both back away from that cliff a second before they jump into it, and then just look at each other, nod -- one after the other -- and disentangle.

And then they're heading away from each other, again.

* * *

Dear Randolph

First of all, we hope you are feeling better. When we found you on that park bench, last night, you were not at all well. We did our best to get you home in one piece, rehydrate you, and lay out provisions for this morning. Hopefully we were not too rough? 

(SPYGOD called us and told us to come and get you, in case you were wondering. He wants you to know he is neither upset nor angry. But there are things the two of you need to discuss, clearly.)

Secondly, you will doubtlessly not see this letter right away. But as you move about the house to start your day, you will surely see that we are not there. And you will surely see, also, that our rooms are clean and empty of most of our things, and our bags gone. 

And you will wonder what has happened, perhaps? And then come back to your room and see this note. 

We have left, yes. But please do not think that our leaving is a direct response to what happened last night. The truth is that we have been planning this for some time. In fact, we planned to tell you about this yesterday, over the Christmas dinner we did not have!  

But we had air tickets for this morning, and you know how difficult they are to reschedule on less than 24 hours notice, especially at this time of year! So we decided, reluctantly, to go ahead with our plan, knowing that you would understand. You know how efficient we try to be!  

The truth of things is that, while much of what you said last night was brought about by despair and drink, there was some truth to it. You are correct that, in spite of all we have seen and done, and lived and lost, there is still so much for us to learn. We are still so naive, still so innocent, still so wide-eyed at this amazing, larger world we were brought into when the Ice Palace was liberated.
And while we do not believe you meant what you said about leaving you to show we love you, we think it's time to do exactly that. Not because we love you (which we most certainly do) or because we don't (which we most emphatically do not)

But because you are correct: It is long past time that we found our own way in this world. 

You have been a wonderful guide, in peace and in war, in good and in bad. You have shown us this larger world at its best, and its worst. You have shown us that the truth can make a difference, and that such truth is worth living for, worth fighting for, and worth dying for.  

You have shown us so much, but there is so much more to see. And as good as a guide and teacher as you have been, we realize that we must now find our own way, and our own truth.

When we were born, we were taught to expect a dark hole, filled only with pain, and we were told it was good. You showed us a world full of many different things, some joyful, some painful, and told us that we could make of it what we would. We were brought up to expect nothing, and you have given us everything.

You have given us a world. Now we must give something back, both to it and to you. 

So we have decided to strike out on our own, and record and see as much of this world as we can. If what we are hearing is true, and this wider world we have been liberated into is under a threat perhaps greater than we can overcome, then someone must make a record of it, if only so that those who come after us will have a window to view us through.  

And, with respect to certain American scientists, we do not think a gold record in a space probe will do. Not now that we have better things to record snapshots of our world upon, and fresh eyes to do so with.  

We have money. SPYGOD has seen to this. And due to our special situation, we have something approaching diplomatic immunity in the eyes of the TU. We can go anywhere, see everything, and ask anything of anyone.  

And we can promise that, by the time we are done, they will regret having been so generous with this. :)

You will pardon us if we do not tell you where we are headed, first. This will be something of a surprise for you, and we hope you will be at least amused. But we also know that you might try to come and join us, and this would defeat the exercise.

This is not goodbye. We would say Auf Wiedersehen. You know that this means "until we meet again," and we will.

We love you.

Gunther, Helga, Helmut, Jana, Karl

(SPYGOD is listening to One More Time (The Cure) and having whatever Ben Franklin's having)

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