Dirty, Rotten Thievery – Part 4

The deep-tech whir of a subsystem hums through the helm chamber.

A high-speed dimensional coalescence cuts through the air, handily complying the intersecting of dimensions in only a matter of seconds. From the emptied out interstellar tunnel, a single, resplendent figure emerges. Like a cross between a priest and a savant of technology, Ywn enters the helm to address the one standing next to the commander’s seat as well as the one in the seat itself.

“Gentlemen,” Ywn begins, looking over the duo.

As the one in the commander’s seat finishes a few actions on his console, the large one next to him gives a nod of respectful greeting.

“Ahh, if it isn’t our dear nemesis.”

It’s Overlord Eternity, considered by most to be the greatest life form that exists anywhere, especially if you’ve watched any of his television networks, used his internet, his mail service, been protected by his military forces, or even simply visited one of his theme parks or resorts.

Like a massive phantasm of golden light, short streaks of raw mana pulse through him, so strong that they’re visible to the naked eye. A suit of armor, befitting a deity like himself, conceals every part of him that isn’t outpouring of his aura.

Despite the appearance, the fame, the glory, and the power, he still holds only the title of “Overlord”, missing  a rather-infamous “High” to it.

Ywn scoffs at the mild tone of the greeting. “And my beloved, backslidden troglodyte hell-bent on suppressing humanity’s progress.”

“So you got my word, did you?” Eternity asks.

“I did, but I did not expect to see you here in person,” Ywn answers. “You tend to have one of your retainers do all the insulting for you.”

Eternity scoffs back with an equally-measured calm. “This was something I wanted to see first-hand. It is true I do not lower myself to the mortal plane often, but when I do you can be assur-“

“I bet your hot tub stopped working or something,” Ywn surmises.

Eternity scoffs again, but with such a slight twinge of surprise that Ywn almost feels as though he’s hit the nail on the head.

“Nonsense!” Eternity notes warmly. “I’ve simply dreamed of this day, and I wanted to be present to meet you to him myself.”

In a rather unknightly pose, Ywn crosses his arms. He won’t even touch Eternity’s dirty overlord-culture floor with his clean white boots. “Then, by all means. Let us see him.”

Eternity nods to the commander at the chair, who in turn gestures to one of his many operators.

A deer-woman of some kind taps with hoofed-fingers to open a display.

Before them all is a sight they’ve all waited for, but were not prepared to act upon.

The camera feed produces the sight of High Overlord Chaos, trapped in a miles-thick, hyper-enchanted, ultra-alloy box. The cell, roughly five meters by five meters, is bare of all except the small camera and speaker inputs nudged into two corners of the cell.

“His magic is suppressed?” Ywn asks.

Eternity looks over to the commander, who finally turns his chair around. Without standing to meet Ywn, Admiral Aonnis delivers a curt nod. “Every cell in the high security blocks boasts anti-currenting enchantments that, so long as we have mana to keep them charged, will inhibit any attempts at magic expression.”

Ywn’s head notches back as if impressed. “Good. You should kill him.”

Eternity laughs at the words of the embodiment of knowledge this side of causality. “Ahh yes, kill him. After all this time, I’ve finally had my one competitor thrown into my hands, by a minor overlord, no less, and here you’re suggesting I simply crush him with the sledge gap,  are you?”

Ywn’s head lowers back as if to address him seriously. “I’m quite serious. You need to take your chance, because it’s only a matter of time until he escapes.”

Another disparaging chuckle from the apparent new High Overlord. “Oh, dear man of science. I was like you, once, so focused on material things…”

“It is difficult not to care when that creature single-handedly destroyed most of my civilization.”

“And rightfully so. He did me quite the favor.”

There’s an awkward silence. The ship commander grips the arms of his chair nervously overhearing a spat between two men that most would compare to gods.

“The moral understandings of your sorts aside, I am telling you this for your benefit, Overlord Eternity.”

Another scoff emerges from the armor. “How very trite of you, assuming I’m gullible enough to take the opinion of Rondi’s stepping stool.”

“Even being her stool would be an honor for someone like me,” Ywn notes with a calm, gracious tone.

“I’m certain it would.

There’s another awkward silence.

“Do you even think you’ll be able to contain him?” Ywn asks.

Eternity looks to the screen display. “Well, see for yourself.”

Ywn inspects the camera feed. “I was going to ask… he doesn’t seem to be moving.”

World-departure mindstasis.

This time it’s Ywn to give a short “tsk”. He would have expected a blasted overlord to deliver a pseudo-intellectual placeholder term to him. “I suppose that’s your term for I.C.A.?” Ywn asks, referring to the not new but recently advanced field of intraphasic consciousness augmentation.

Eternity shrugs. “Whatever pretentious jargon you have for it, I’m sure we’re talking about the same thing. His body is here, but we’re beaming a field of synapses into his brain to cause him to perceive himself in a completely different place.”

Ywn sighs. “That won’t hold him for long,” he notes bluntly. “The second his ether is aware of what you’re doing it’s going to shut it out. Conscious or no, he’s a galactic-class weapon at least – he was made specifically to crush upstarts like you.”

Eternity scoffs again. “Oh, you know what he is?”

“I know who made him, and that is enough. You are so vastly outmatched, it is like an ant bearing its pincers at the lightning of the sky.”

“So you think I should just kill him before he comes to, I assume.”

“It’s the best you can do.”

“And how would you go about it?”

The Head Librarian glances over to the starmap console screen. Despite the obviously high-tech hardware, Ywn is mildly pleased to see that Eternity is at least a few centuries behind his O.E.L. technology.

“How very nostalgic,” Ywn notes, thinking back to the older days when he was first guiding his people through rocket physics and solar-powered propulsion.

“Eh?”

“So, you perhaps could jettison him into that nearby star,” Ywn notes, nodding over to the starmap with his hyper-composite alloyed head. “But that wouldn’t kill him, only give you enough time to escape. Unlocking the cell and attempting to kill him directly would also be risky, but I’d imagine only you could do that out of all the people you have on this ship.”

Eternity draws back with a confident poise. “I suppose you would think that, seeing how busy you are these years.”

“Am I wrong?”

“This is Giga-Bloc, Ywn. The greatest prison in The Omniverse. I’d imagine it’s a good deal more secure than that little ball pit of yours.”

“…I’ve certainly never heard anyone call the Echelon Facility a ball pit before,” Ywn notes with a bland, though winsome dryness.

“Well you’ll find we have quite a lot of top talent here in Giga-Bloc, including a few ex-convicts.”

With a gesture from Eternity, the commander signals to another operator to get a select cell-display on screen, including feeds from the highest security blocks among the interstellar prison.

Ywn pauses at the sight, and finally gives a permissive hum.

“I recognize a few of these faces.”

“They’re all on my payroll. You see, Ywn, currency exists to solve problems. You don’t need to simply shoot the goo out of someone to get your way all the time… perhaps you could take note on that.”

Ywn gives an aged, tired sigh. It’s been so many millennia, and yet while the names change, the idiocy does not. “You overlords are all the same, if only Oidhche could have seen what he’d leave behind.”

Eternity hums with a quizzical poise. “…Those stories were true, then?”

“At least you care enough about the past to want to avoid mistakes. Despite our disagreements, I’ll give you that you’re probably the best person other than me to watch him.”

“Doesn’t he have some… knight woman th-“

“She can kill him, but she won’t.”

“Oh?”

“As long as he’s alive and free, he’ll ‘terrorize’ Thirteen.”

Eternity gives a gentle scoff. “Ahh, I’ve heard of his little pranks there from time to time.”

“Those childish episodes are what’s protected that dimension for so long. As long as he’s there and cares about the place, the people, it’s an impossible entry for us. He treats them like children role playing, but the moment any of my men set foot on that turf they’re obliterated without punity.”

Eternity crosses his broad arms, put back a bit by Ywn’s upfront words. “Well… I didn’t expect you to be so frank with me. I’ve always seen you as a bit of a mystery.”

Ywn looks out from the helm shields to outer space, his gaze locking onto a distant blue star. The ship systems hum with a calming repose.

“We’re all in this together, if you would choose to accept that fact. Despite our ways of life meeting at the teeth day after day, the phantoms of the past scrape hard, scream loudly at us both. Chaos contained is something that is no joke, no laughing matter. Somewhere, past all that cursed ether, are the secrets I’ve been looking for. No one can access it but himself, only he holds the key to his own mind, but I would rather have him away and sacrifice those secrets than live with him. Thirteen is a jewel, a real prize. Despite the smallness of that planet in the vastness of their universe its mana signature was so broad that our scanners picked it up and reported it as an entire star cluster of wizards and sorcerers… but it’s just one world. I know they’re there.”

Eternity raises a brow under his helmet. “Who?”

Ywn makes no movement, but rather gives a long, hissing sigh out from his speaker. “Rayda and Oidhche both. Their final duel – The one I was supposed to end.”

“Really? So it’s true that your goal is to kill the rest of your brotherhood?”

“Rondi called for the end of them all. All of them but Oidhche and myself. Out of the eleven of us, only the two of us were truly loyal.”

Eleven? I thought there were ten of you.”

Ywn scoffs. “One had a fairy. He couldn’t do anything without that little heart beating fast next to him… I saw to that, though.”

Eternity looks Ywn over, that graceful composure despite all these millenniums of bitter struggle. “How many do you have left?”

“Rayda and Ree are likely still alive…  Xingah is unlikely, but I have not confirmed it… and that gray one…

Gray one?

“He never said his name, not even to Rondi. That insipid animal must have died by now, probably just got old and passed away like a typical human… I won’t know until I take care of them all. She will tell me when I’ve dealt with the last one their traitorous lot, I’m certain of that.”

Eternity nods his head to the side. “You’ve had… quite a lot of time to find them.”

“And yet I still search. I know that it’s her will to guide humanity as I look for them. They will come up from time to time, hints, scars from their old exploits… It’s a maddening pursuit. I digress.”

“It’s interesting to hear.”

“I’m not here to regale you. Heed my warning. Kill him, tear out his mind if you can. I will surrender every dimension that our borders contest to you if you give that to me.”

Eternity places his gauntleted hands behind his back as if in polite consideration. “Thank you for taking the time, Ywn.”

The signs of coalescence cut through around Ywn like uber-sharp stars. “Ever the pleasure to speak with you, overlord.”

High Overlord,” Eternity corrects.

“We shall see,” is the last thing Ywn speaks before fading out into the science-formed void opening around him.

Eternity is left in the helm with his operators and officers.

“Goddess-Speed, White Knight,” Eternity mutters under his breath. He turns next to the commander. “Admiral.”

The man springs to his feet at a clean attention. “Sir.”

“Monitor the situation… if block X has a break put in the kill order.”

“Sir.”

Eternity turns away and reaches out his hand to cast magic. A coalescence of equal speed to Ywn’s begins to form, but using raw magic rather than magitech. “I have much business to attend to…. Perhaps there’s something to these Knights of Rondi after all.”

It’s an excellent celebration at Beach Tower, and everyone’s here.

Minions new and old, feisty and festive are all partying around by the pool, taking turns on the grills, doing conga, playing video games and twister and volleyball and tennis and pool-jousting and so many more things that it would defeat any effort to appreciate.

Chaos is having a wonderful time.

As the wild music kicks on and the two-hundred-minion-high tower of his vassals dive over on the sides into the five-mile wave pool, he’s keeping himself busy helping one of the little minions figure out how to doggy paddle in the kiddie pool.

“Kick, kick! Woof woof!” Paper Crafts Minion bleats with a giggle as his little black legs slap aimlessly along the clear water of the pool.

Chaos’ grin is wide and caring as he guides his tiny underling along by his little hands. He remembers back: Paper Crafts Minion was the only child he could save in time when a day care exploded from a gas leak. After infesting the boy to stop the internal hemorrhaging and killing the contractor he deemed responsible for the blunder, he sat the lad down and asked him what he could do.

Of course, he was two years old, almost three, so his skills in papercraft were about the most impressive skill he could offer to The High Overlord’s dark cause. He made him a small green star, and Chaos immediately knew the lad would be his primary Star Creator.

At least, that was the reason, on paper, but Chaos just thought it wasn’t Paper Crafts Minion’s time to go just yet.

Chaos leads him for another lap around the tiny pool when a squeaky, little voice comes rolling into his hearing.

“Sir! Sir!” the bespectacled and generically-named Science Minion shouts with a peppy hop, his lab coat wafting up around his tiny black ankles just barely.

Chaos gives an ever-considerate glance over to the side of the pool. “How may I help you, Science Minion?”

The coated minion leans back in surprise and what the overlord might even consider distaste. “Science Mini- Sir, you don’t understand, you’re trapped!

Chaos sighs whimsically. “Ahh, are we not all prisoners of our natures, Science Minion? Humans continue on in their disgusting cycles of ambition and regret, you and I dance in the sunlight like the free hearts we are, and evil will slink in-“

“No, sir, I’m saying you’re physically… well, at least mentally imprisoned within this reality!”

All the same to him, Chaos picks up little Paper Crafts Minion with a swing, causing the little minion to laugh uncontrollably. “Even then, we are only capable of that which we have been measured, though can we not expand ourselves past what we understood as reality?”

“Sir. You’re in prison.

Chaos hums with a charming, carefree tone as he bounces Paper Crafts Minion on his forearm. “Are we not al-“

Literally in prison. Prison prison,” Science Minion reasserts with a certain knife-hand motion.

“Now look around you, Science Minion of mine, do-“

“I don’t actually see anything. You’re seeing it all. I’m a projection of your consciousness.”

Chaos gives Paper Crafts Minion a small tickle on the stomach before addressing him. “We’ll learn more in a bit. I’m going to have to put you down now.”

“Okay! Woof woof!” Paper Craft Minion exclaims, attempting to do a doggie paddle in mid air.

The High Overlord of Unmeasurable Cruelty gives his little minion a hug, timed for as long as the little one holds back, and then puts him down before turning back to Science Minion. “Pardon. Now be on with the report,”  he says as Paper Crafts Minion rushes over to but one of the many appetizer tables, this one replete with salsas, chips, tacos, fruit and veggie platters, and an enormous bowl of buttered spaghetti for some reason.

Science Minion gives an exasperated sigh. “Sir, you’ve been forced into a prison of your own creation, look.” Chaos looks over at Science Minion’s gesture.

Airborne Minion, Ranger Minion, and SOF Minion are all laxing in the corner, each with their drinks of choice, smoking cigarettes and each with their shiny, perfectly sculpted berets. To Chaos’ eye they seem to be passing around stories of war.

Hmm, yes,” Chaos says with a perceptive squint.

Science Minion gasps. “R-… so you see it?!”

“I’d never let those ungrateful savages smoke! It’s terrible for you!”

Science Minion slaps a hand into his face the moment MT Pilot Minion comes by with an armful of scrolls.

“Director, Sir,” he starts with a broad, brave voice. “I have the new plans for Towerne’s required upgrades if we’re going to be mech-ready.”

Chaos’ antennae shoot straight up. “Wonderful! I knew you were the right minion for the job.”

“It’s all thanks to the Mech-Tower department and your leadership, sir. If you sign off on this it’s going to be a very productive, very busy month.”

The Overlord loves the sound of that, far more than some random news about yet another extra-reality, four dimensional chess, super theoretical threat, but he is The High Overlord, and he values all of his minions’ viewpoints.

“As much as I’d love to, I’m going to have to wait on that. Science Minion here apparently has quite the news for me.” He looks over. “Isn’t that right?”

Science Minion nods the very moment MT Pilot Minion chimes in. “Director, have I also mentioned that if we are able to finish the project in time, the mech tower will also come with a neverending cheese machine?

Chaos’ expression flashes with interest. “Verily? How precisely would that work out? Why would there be a deadline to making a cheese machine in a mech-tower?”

“Material shortage, logistical incompetence, and low-morale.”

Chaos shrugs. “Fair enough. Few are willing to truly take pride in their craft. If it’s so important than perha-“

No!” Science Minion shouts, swinging at MT Pilot Minion and smacking him right in the face.

“Little bitch! I knew you’d snap eventually!” MT Pilot Minion shouts as he matches his superior strength and speed to the nerd.

Chaos watches with an at-ease squint as the two minions tangle back and forth, tumbling about like a screaming ball of nonsensical violence. Even so, Chaos does want to get on with improving Towerne’s defensive capabilities. He decides he’ll give them a moment and then figure through it all.

The Great Punisher steps up and out from the kiddie pool, over to one of the poolside bars where all sorts of fruity non alcoholic beverages are being sold, and gets a mix of the aptly-named “I wish I could make real drinks but Chaos won’t let me” martini courtesy of Mixology Minion, who in fact has made tons of alcoholic drinks around Towerne, and Chaos simply hasn’t found out.

The High Overlord takes a sip from the libation, fruity, fizzy, and quite blue, then with a lax step returns to the side of the kiddie pool.

He watches the two continue their fight, Science Minion gaining a surprising choke hold over MT Pilot Minion. As enjoyable as it is to watch his subjects sharpen their martial skills, he really does want to move this along- after all it’s a really nice day today.

“That’s quite enough.”

The two minions peel off immediately, but only enough to speak.

“So what’s so important that it simply cannot wait for a later time, then?” Chaos asks.

Before MT Pilot Minion can pull in breath, Science Minion jabs his little foot to shove his foe’s face back into the brick. “Sir, they’re all dead!

Chaos waits a moment as the words simply rest on him, then he looks over to the three beret-wearing minions. They’re all laughing and joking around – still smoking, too.

“That’s quite right,” Chaos says, his relaxed expression sobering up immediately. “That’s exactly right, even. I lost all three of them, and all of them respected me enough to keep their habits away from me.”

“Do you understand now, sir?” Science Minion asks.

MT Pilot Minion struggles up to speak. “What nonsense are you on about?!”

Chaos looks to the drink, and then takes a sip before speaking. It’s delicious, and yet… “None of this is real, but how would you, a figment of my imagination, have realized this?”

Science Minion scoffs. “Well, for one thing, my name isn’t Science Minion, sir.”

Chaos’s antennae flinch. “Could it be that I’ve been mistaken on multiple accounts?”

“I’m Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion. You recall our sleep training in Ultra Tower a few decades ago, sir?”

Chaos squints with a rare perception. “Yes… yes that’s right. We did it so my subconsciousness would recognize when this kind of thing were to happen.”

Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion gives a curt nod. “Right you are, sir. In fact we installed myself as your safeguard to appear whenever your subconscious realized it was being moved out of its previous reality. If it weren’t for that, it could have been hours before you figured it out. I was distilled into your mind by the research minions of Ultra Tower to get you back on track as quickly as possible.”

Chaos takes another sip of his blue drink, and then glances up. “Only hours?”

Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion gives a short chuckle. “You’re a lot more perceptive than you’d think, sir. Most people would get caught up in this sort of thing for years, not because they wouldn’t figure it out, but because they’d rather live in a reality where everything goes their way,” he explains with a bemused curl of the jaws.

Chaos looks around. It’s a wonderful scene. There’s nothing he would find displeasing here, with the exception of those things reflected off of his expectations of certain folks; for instance, the military minions’ smoking. Everything else is quite perfect, and he will admit there is a part of him, however small, that wishes it could go on forever.

“That’s reasonable, but an unseasoned way of looking at things. I am ready to embrace all the misery the true world has to offer. Pleasure is only part of the journey, not the destination.”

Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion crosses his arms. “Well it’s going to be more complicated than simply ‘wishing it away’.”

“Are you guys nuts?” MT Pilot Minion snips with a rough, though good-humored scoff. “What are you guys talking about?”

Chaos produces a graceful wave off, more gentle than the swaying wings of a butterfly at rest. “Worry not about it, dear minion of mine. We shall figure it all out for you,” he turns back to Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion. “So, how should I escape this illusion?”

Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion clears his throat to enunciate. “Well, sir. It’s more than likely a magitech system doing this.”

‘Magitech?” Chaos asks with a quizzical tone.

The lab coat wearing minion grins. “Don’t worry, sir. Even though you do not think you remember, you do. Your conscious mind eludes much due to your condition, but I’m more-so your subconscious mind speaking to you.”

“Fascinating.”

The Minion bows his head in a way Chaos would. “Indeed, in fact while I do take the place of one of your minions, it would be more appropriate for you to simply refer to what is talking to you as your own subconscious, especially now that you are becoming ever-more aware of your situation.”

Chaos draws his head up with a pleased recognition, noting a fellow friend in himself. “Very well, me. What shall we do?”

Magitech, as I was saying, is magic-led technology, or vice-versa. Either way, you’re being forced into this trance. We do not know what sort of infrastructure this mechanism possesses, but for certain it is a mechanism of some kind.”

The Smasher of Galaxies produces an ambitious grin. “Ahh, and any mechanism can certainly be broken, can it not?”

Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion nods with an ambitious grin. “There you are, frontal lobe. Now listen up. You need to overload the mechanism.”

“And how can I do this?”

“There’s a mana battery somewhere in this mechanism, and the more you stress it, the more you drain it.  What we need to do is to create so much of our experience that it would be impossible for the system to keep up. It’s not about draining the system entirely, it’s about outrunning its bandwidth. If you outrun its ability to generate illusions, you can cause a break in the system long enough for you to move your actual physical body.”

Chaos gives a gentle hum at the idea. “So we need to imagine faster than it can project and respond those mirages into our senses?”

Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion nods again. “Precisely, me. After all, who would be better at imagining things than you?”

“Hmm, perhaps Crazy Idea Minion would prove a challen-“

“Nonsense. You know that despite everything against you, at all hours, and at all sides, you are The High Overlord.”

Chaos grins wearily. “It’s a tiresome title.”

“But you and I hold onto it still. We could have faked a defeat millennia ago, but we haven’t given it up.”

Chaos hums wistfully. “We are quite the enigm-“

“Perhaps to you, conscious brain, but to me, I know our heart. We hold onto it because we have to be an example to others,” Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion explains as he steps forward confidently. “Loathsome souls writhe with every breath they have, ever-hoping to forgo their nature and supplant the elements of the cosmos. They have any number of names for what they think they are: Boss, Leader, King, Emperor, Overlord and even God. These fools, who only practice introspection when they have the time to, these ingrates that dare place them on the same rung of the ladder as us, consider themselves their own masters. They will do all they can to rape, slay and pillage their way to the top, through military, mystical, or even political means. The meaning and spirit behind their sins are the same, but the method is different from one to another. The reality remains, however.”

“Reality?” Chaos asks.

Us,” the minion adds with a firm, superior tone, as if addressing a whole universe of engaged listeners. “Whatever made us, whatever we were, we cannot now overlook our duty to other lifeforms.”

Chaos scoffs. “And what duty is this?”

“Say it,” the minion challenges with a severe look.

Chaos scoffs again, and then seriouses up once more. “WeI am the example. When one claims himself a god, I will test them.”

Multi-Reality Intersection Safeguard Minion gives a wry, murderous grin. “Have you found any gods?”

Chaos grins back. “…I have not.”

“So, even if your magic is suppressed, your memories faulty, and your enemies knocking at every door you have, what will become of them?”

Chaos looks off the tower to the warm sands below. “They will learn what all the others have.”

“And what is that?”

Chaos squints with a renewed fervor. With an air for the dramatic, he reaches out his mighty black arm and cinches his claw into itself, creating a fist capable of decimating a castle wall. “That to proclaim mastery over one’s nature is to reject one’s life, and to reject one’s life is to reject one’s meaning. Their decision to own themselves is precisely what causes them to lose themselves. It may begin a careful, planned growth of the heart, but the end is the same: Pride, that great terminator of everything that is good.”

The Minion nods. “Let’s get out of here. Crush this dream and crush Greed’s skull.

Chaos flinches with surprise, and in the next second, a fatal realization triples his disgust. “Yes… That’s right! I still need to murder that animal!

At once, there’s a rumbling throughout the created universe.

Chaos imagines another drink in his hand, and then another, and another, each glass overpouring with the blood of that so-called overlord. Then Chaos imagines Greed, that lithe, squat lesser dragon-kin, falling from the sky, weeping hysterically in terror, still hiding emotionally behind his brother, Pride. The bipedal lizard-man, in a thousand, and then a million, and then a thousand-million forms, cascades from the sky, slamming meaninglessly and fatally into the tower like rain.

The High Overlord, despite his better judgement, allows his wrath to overtake him. After all, it was him that threatened his Minionry – reputation be damned. What could Chaos care for the opinions of insects, all biting at the heels of the one true human in comparison to them?

His mind stretches out from violence, and into the limitless expanses of comprehensive possibility. He dreams of landscapes, heavenly spaces, hellscapes and woods so deep and so broad that it would take one a thousand lifetimes to admire a single glade.

It is not enough to simply imagine them, he is actively seeing himself as being in those places. The smiling faces of his protected underlings shroud out into the wild mess of his hyper-active, enormously-fast mind, capable of jutting spells faster than any other he’s met anywhere.

Chaos remembers with all his might. His labored mind churns out a million thoughts each minute, deserts, tundras, cities, conversations, battles and victories. He thinks of the farthest future, and the oldest past, and everything in-between.

Despite his memory loss, and despite the illusion system’s best efforts, the right plan, administered with an unwavering determination, has again folded the odds entirely in The Overlord’s favor.

Finally, he sees something that he did not imagine.

Amidst the wild swirl of a million ideas, he recognizes the one he hadn’t conjured, and viciously thrusts his fist, his real one, at the device. He only flinches at first, but he does not let that break his concentration.

With a consistent effort, he begins to not simply visualize, but to see his actual physical surroundings, as well as the magitech device producing his hallucinations.

“Only the weak need a perfect world, Greed,” Chaos snaps the second he forces back his physical faculties and strikes the device.

Like a phantasm of a Summer’s night, all the shrouded aberrations of his imaginings begin to dissipate.

Familiar faces, cold and strange places, and the warm touch of a lady leave him. It’s not Knight Love, or Order, or any of those others he’s had run ins with over the ages, he knows that much. The height doesn’t feel right – it’s someone about as tall as he is, though he couldn’t for the life of him imagine who that could be.

He finds himself in a tiny hyper-secure cell, mundane gray walls surrounding him. There’s no ports for food or biological relief to speak of, testament to the expectation of the captive – a truly self-reliant soul.

With a swipe, The High Overlord attempts to cut a portal through the fabric of the universe, but it does not rend for him. With a squint, he speaks an arcane word, and then another, and then one more.

Nothing responds to him. He moves his antennae about, and at once he realizes what’s going on. The entire facility must be sealed, carefully and overtly by any number of committed magicians, to seal overflowing magic presences like him. Chaos can only imagine how much time and resources it would have taken to seal at-range a galactic presence like himself, but he knows it can be done. If you can buy a hundred mountains, even a will that can move one would struggle under the weight.

His work will be cut out for him in this silent chamber, he knows that even with his splintering mind.

Chaos is indeed alone, but he’s grinning still – he feels as though his other mind is watching him, pushed forward by the wishes and expectations of his minions, as well as the horrors and prayers for his failure offered up by thousands, if not millions.

He will escape, he will get back what is his, he will save those that rely on him, and he will smash the skull of that dejected lizard once and for all.

But present now is the question of how to escape the cell.

His antennae flicker about in thought as he attempts to construct a mental map of his environment, through the slight gaps of the wires and outward, feeling endless, into the expanses of the great complex.

The Dark Lord’s knowledge of magic eludes him, but even so it would do him little good with an atmospheric seal this strong. He grins to himself, realizing they must have upgraded massively for the sole purpose of containing him.

“Presently this is a question, isn’t it not so?” he speaks out to himself with a halting tone, as if his grasp of language itself is failing him now.

Without anything else to do, he sits, and simply feels his way around, both inside and out.

The minionry’s advice was right, he realizes. He does have memory problems, but at least he realizes that he’s forgetting things. It worries him that he may even forget things even more precious to him than his grasp of language – what if he’s to forget his purpose, his determination, his unshakable goal and cause for power?

Taking a pause, he comforts himself with the thought that this must have happened before, and as such, it is more than likely that he will again recall what he has forgotten.

Then, a weird idea comes into his mind.

Perhaps “comes into” isn’t really the right turn of phrase. In fact, Chaos feels as though the idea was already there, as if he’s thought of the idea before, but it’s been so long since he’s thought of it last that it feels completely new in a special kind of way.

“Couldn’t I just stretch through the wires?” he muses.

He scoffs.

How ridiculous, he thinks. What a childish manner to solve a problem – do the impossible to accomplish an impossible task, he mantras to himself with an facetious air.

“And just how could I d-… do?do such a thing?” he asks, quite uncertain if he was even using the word “do” correctly.

But the more he thinks on it, the more it makes sense. How indeed could he infest one of his minions before forming the invading part of his body into a semi-liquid state? He’s done it to all of his minions to turn their minds or at least save their lives with his biologically-freezing ether, after all. Couldn’t he use it for his own sake as well?

Immediately, he attempts to recreate the state of mind he uses when he extends his infusia upon another creature – like becoming a stream of fettered sunlight, running into the body, mind, and then soul of another person like good artwork.

His eyes closed and his mind focuses, he begins to feel… abnormal. He forgets many things, or perhaps more accurately one part of his mind is pushed aside, and another is brought proudly to the forefront. It does not feel like his subconscious, Chaos thinks, but some kind of weird Jungian “other” within him, a presence, perhaps.

Crossing his arms and sitting the same way, he takes a single unnecessary but still-calming breath. He feels like he needs to expand, outward, beyond his physical constraints. Yes, his body of ether is solid, liquid, and perhaps gas as well. Wouldn’t his body within be crushed if he were to impose a liquid state upon all of him?

He ponders briefly why he’s capable of doing this, when all magic should be inhibited. The fact of the matter is that in this short few minutes, he’s even forgotten a baseline principle of magic: that his body, which is mana, can still contort freely, but simply cannot be expressed in a different form through incantations.

Then it hits him.

It’s not so much his body that can be liquid, as his spirit.

After all, the infusia of ether that makes up his body is in fact connected directly to his personage – his soul.

All he needs to do, when all is truly said and done, is to want something, the same way he wants to save a life through his infestation.

It all makes sense now, but only for the moment.

The helm is calm, calm enough that Admiral Aonnis granted leave to half of the crew for their scheduled lunch hour.

Being the only human among the officers on the crew is a strange experience, but not one that he isn’t ready for being under the banner of the Eternum.

He signals to a cinnamon-colored gerbil-creature to get another cup of heavy coffee, as it’s the only thing he ever signals to his aide for that doesn’t require words.

In only a moment, the meter-high gerbil person delivers a freshly-brewed cup of the good stuff his way, and he takes it up into his suited hands, ready to exit a pressurized environment such as this in only a moment’s notice.

“Thank you,” the man, his silverfox, gray-black hair bristling from his sip, says with a tone that exudes perpetual coolness. He turns to look at the same display he’s been monitoring for the past hour. Chaos has gained consciousness a few minutes ago, and is now sitting with his eyes, if they can even be called that, closed in what Aonnis can only assume is thought.

“Wondering what he’s thinking about, sir?” the gerbil-like notes with a twitch of his nose.

“It couldn’t be anything we could comprehend. Imagine, being alive longer than most civilizations have recorded history… what sorts of thoughts would a being like that possess?”

“Not older than Eternity, though, yes?” the gerbil adds expectantly.

Aonnis’ bristles curl wryly. “That is the official statement, so yes.”

Frankly, neither of them know, and they’re both aware of the irony that they’re working on the payroll of someone who claims to be an immortal, everlasting creature incapable of death – one that is supposed to surpass the title of even High Overlord.

“The question remains, though,” the human mumbles.

“Sir,” a suit of some fluid starts with the tone of a young female to his ears. “I’d imagine it wouldn’t be all that different from what his environment would suggest to him. He is trapped after all. Wouldn’t he be either thinking of how to escape or coming to terms with his situation?”

Aonnis sighs. “Escaping for him would be coming to terms with his situation.”

There’s a short, uneasy pause between the gerbil and fluid-creature.

“Do you mean to say he’ll break out?” the gerbil asks.

The admiral leans into the back of his chair. “Eternity seemed like he wouldn’t… but Ywn had a different opinion.”

“The Librarium Head of Research?” the goo in the suit asks.

“He’s much more than that,” Aonnis notes, “I had the honor of visiting them for a joint-strategy summit.”

The gerbil flinches with a look of awe. “Wh- wow!”

“As expected of you, Admiral, sir,” the goo notes.

Aonnis nods with a dim look in his eyes. “Would you believe it that our information is the most controlled of all the factions?”

“Controlled, as in protected, sir?” the gerbil asks with a quizzical twitch of the whiskers.

The admiral takes a sip. “Suppressed, would be the better term.”

“You mean to say there’s a lot kept out of sight, then?” the goo questions, its suit hand waving out in annunciation.

The admiral shrugs before turning to the two, standing near him at the side facing away from the screen. “I can’t blame him. My time in Librarium territory was… sobering. The Verses is a frightening place, disheartening if you only looked at the wrong-headed ones.” He takes a slow, wise breath. “The scribes showed me things I never imagined could exist anywhere, not even my dreams. They’re so far beyond us technologically it’s incredible. Even after Chaos destroyed their entire society they were able to rebuild and surpass everyone twice. They’ve struggled through so much, and here we are, plopping our ‘divine law’ about as if the secrets of our universe give even a single damn about us.”

“What do you mean, sir?” the goo continues.

“We’re small, lieutenant. We’re very small in the scheme of things. I’d dare say that Ywn knew what he was talking about that Chaos would find a way out. I don’t know how old he is, but if he deals with the kind of information that The Librarium was handling day by day, I can only imagine he has case studies of things like this.”

There’s a pause on the bridge.

“But we have our orders, don’t we?” he adds simply.

“Yes, sir,” the goo notes blandly.

“Y-yes, sir,” the gerbil squeaks as he clears his throat. “You… you don’t think he’d… if he broke out he’d-“

“I don’t know,” Aonnis says the moment the gerbil’s eyes, shifted to the screen behind the admiral, widens in terror. “He might break down the inhibitors and leave immediately, which I expect is the more-likely scenario, but I wouldn’t put it past him to destroy the station and kill everyone in it. It’s difficult to know how he’ll react.”

“About that, sir,” the gerbil starts.

Aonnis notes his subordinate’s expression, and takes a deep, readied breath.

A stress-inducing *ba-beep ba-beep* punches through the console speakers.

The admiral, as well as the entire helm crew, have only heard that sound in training – significant issue requiring immediate attention.

“And so it begins,” Aonnis mumbles before taking a meditative sip from his coffee. He turns back to the display to see Chaos entirely, inexplicably gone from the cell. “Patch me through to Ywn,” he says.

The comms operator, some lanky, LARP-obsessed frog thing, stretches his neckless head over with a clueless blink. “The… don’t you think Lord Eternity wo-“

“He’s not available right now,” Aonnis states curtly.

“Sir,” the goo starts, “formal regulation st-“

“I know what it says, Lieutenant. My intent as of now is making sure my crew survives. You shouldn’t have to die for incompetence and oversight.”

The entire helm is silent. Everyone is quite sure who the admiral is speaking about, and speaking ill of him is considered grounds for dismissal.

“Right away… sir,” the frog ribbits dejectedly before turning for his console.

Aonnis spins his chair to the center of his displays to the massive overhead projection of the vessel’s current status.

“Call the lunch crew in. We’re getting to work.”

“Doing what, sir? How the hell are we going to fix this?!” the gerbil questions, picking up his mobile device with trembling hands.

The admiral leans back with a professional intensity, forged through decades of service and thousands of problems solved on behalf of The Eternum. “By making history.”

One thought on “Dirty, Rotten Thievery – Part 4

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