"Your opportunity to continue drawing breath is a gift. Those here and those beyond have afforded you a respite... a moment where you can choose to alter the course of destiny for not only a score of innocents on this behemoth, throngs of lives on the surface below it... and one soul whose fate may yet earn redemption. It is a boon that should not so hastily be wasted with poorly chosen words." Destron tilts her sword so the light in the room glints off the cutting edge of the blade, causing the light to land so that it shines as a bright band across 251's throat. "Aid us if you can, hinder us only with the time lost to hearing your answers. We are in need of haste. ..."
Dee turns her eyes to the others, waiting for them to begin the interrogation.
Handing his lighter over to Patch, Kage mentally slipped back into being ‘Omega Knight’ and approached 251.
”Contrary to your misguided belief, we don’t generally kill the defenceless.
Or the weak!”
It was clear by his tone which one Omega considered the bound Correspondent. The Knight sighed and folded his arms.
”You live because you have knowledge we want and crimes to answer for.
I want to…
But she deserves far wor…
And that is precisely what she expects …
If you threaten, hurt, or even threaten to hurt, then she’ll mostly likely clam up, smug in the knowledge that she was right about ‘the Ground’
Whatever that means.
Exactly! Think about it. This ”251” has probably never left this Flying Fortress. Never actually touched the ground. Her outside is those Alphanumeric Parks.
Push as hard as you can, but remember, we need information. Not lies.
Presence check to get 251 to talk
”You spoke before of your ‘Grand Plan’ expanding for beyond magic and mage children. What is then that YPNR is going to do.”
Here, the Knight dropped to one knee and leaned forward. His hands Gripping the sheathed Retribution much harder than necessary. This was both partly unintentially and partly to keep his hands occupied. His voice getting colder, Omega said.
”Why the genetic manipulations, the tests, the modified humans.
And what does mounting a giant laser cannon on the front of your city have to do with it!”
"The various genetic experiments are for perfecting the human form," Correspondent 251 calmly said. "While the Chief Apothecary would know far more, it's simply medicine. On the matter of our Grand Plan..."
Here, she paused, before saying "If magic is the problem, then dealing with individual mages is probably the equivalent of plucking leaves. To truly remove a weed, it needs to be pulled out from the roots. We would need to target a source of a suitable size. After discussion, it was decided that it had to be nothing short of a god. This took some brainstorming since any texts we found made it seem like such a thing would never truly be permanent if a god was attacked. And even then, it would only be possible if a god crossed over to our world. Luckily, we realized we weren't truly using our intellectual talents and we simply had to go back to the basis of the idea...target the source. While many gods would have come from things too esoteric and widespread to do anything about, we found one that was specific enough to become the goal. A protector god of a region is nothing if that region is no more. We would need to sacrifice the few to protect the world. So, when the autopilot finally finishes repairing itself, we will continue our course North.
No fear. No anger. No hatred. Patch repeated these words in her mind as Correspondent 251 spoke, to ward off those emotions that had nearly destroyed her.
It struck her how 251 had accused them of thinking too small, yet she herself had committed the mistake of thinking too big. So vast and expansive was her goal that she had missed the trees for the forest. She had already been personally defeated by their ragtag group and yet she still spoke with certainty that her ultimate goals would be realized.
We'd better not get complacent. They could still pull this off.
"Removed...?" EB snorted. Surely she was joking. She must be...
His blood ran cold as her words sunk in.
"Wait. Wiping out a nation to summon a 'god'?! How is that gonna-" huff
"Why- but--" huff
He started breathing, hard. Not trusting himself, he stood up and walked to another corner, bristling with anger.
Omegas right hand twitched again, though it was merely to squeeze into a fist. Not draw his blade. Mostly.
”So then, you are convinced that magic is so antithetical to the world, that you will, quite literally, build your new utopia on the blood and bones of the innocent?
Anybbody who can so calmly espouse the mass slaughter of the few, for the ‘Greater Good’ has abandoned reason for madness! And to go after those that a god protects? What backwards logic is that.
Simple question: What happens to the rest of us on the ground once you’ve made this grand delusional strike and wiped out an entire nation. Do you really think your ‘benevolence’ will be rewarded. Or do you plan to hold your gun to our heads and demand we surrender in the face of your overwhelming ‘intellectual’ power.”
Moving to EB, Kage forcing his fist to unclench, so that he could put a reasuring hand on the rabbitman shoulder. In a low, calm tone, he said.
”Stay focused EB. Do not dwell on what might be, on what they want to happen. We are here to stop them. And we will. Remember, we have stopped men, machines and dark gods.“
So this is the threat Destron was warned of.
To ’kill’ a god, by killing its belief.
Why does that sound so familiar?
It does bear some similarity to…
The Iron Woods!
Indeed. The protector Life of that place found itself diminished and weak, once that place and its people were destroyed. Binding itself to one survivor it could, what was once a god protector found itself lodt and confused, entwined with the one traumatised man it had saved.
Yes. He was, until Patchs magical pulse, trapped in shadows.
And then he awoke. Or at leasr, the new being born of their merging awoke.
I wonder if YPNR found evidence or even historical information on that event.
Perheaps that is what sparked their design. …where are you Beathra?
Elsewhere. For now. Wherever he is, we have no time to speculate. Cher is the one under threat now. Cher, Destron and her entire people.
Addressing 251 again, Omegas tone was filled with venom and disgust.
"One only wonders how different this situation would be had I encountered your ridiculous warship earlier in my journey. How easily might this be ended if I had entered this place while still harboring Cher in her corrupted form? Your people seek to Destroy... yet you truly...truly have no idea what you play at." Dee's thoughts drifted back to her recent savage past, when she had lost herself... wishing to empty herself once more -just enough to let Cher back in the way she once was, what words would she say to this woman?
Deep within Dee's mind, she heard Cher proclaim, "I afford you more respect, my Champion, than to possess you without permission. Especially after your friend's recent ordeal with Moscareina. And as you are my scalpel, you can do things I can not in this world. Piercing through reality to directly smite this Woman of Numbers would likely kill all of your friends with the room being so small. Despite her blasphemies, the woman may reveal how to avert the catastrophe her people are trying to enact."
In that moment, Correspondent 251 replied to the group, "If YPNR succeeds, there hopefully won't be a need for people like you, Omega Knight. You snuff out matches when the whole forest is ablaze. When we are done, it is doubtful we'll immediately reveal ourselves to a major population center since we'll need to study the ripple effects of what's been done. That's basic scientific process. Besides, the 'reward' is saving the world from future calamity. We destroy so we can build anew.
It is disappointing that I lack my visor. I'd have been able to see the progress of repairing the autopilot program and getting turned around. I know that it was minutes away from completing repairs when all of you met me. My being indisposed means it would be set back but the Chief Apothecary would have picked up where I left off. We've probably already resumed course North. Which is for the best, I'd hate for Elizilah to continue to put herself in danger out there with the manual pilot."
Omega just stared for a moment. Then he started to laugh. A dark, bitter, malevolent sound.
”You think that one giant bomb blast will ’put out the fire of the world’?
You really think that magic is the root cause of all the ills of the world?
And you believe my efforts are insignificant?
Do tell then. Why Magic and Gods? Why are you so convinced that ending them will somehow ‘fix’ things. Human nature is not so, simplistic. For example, Master SAVAGE, the man who we took down for you. He wasn’t magical, nor influenced in any way by magic. He is a thug, the king thug in fact. Leader of a group of mercenaries, bandits and cutthroats. How will burning out an entire nation of people, stop them?”
Moving a little closer to 251, Kage continued to resist the urge to just give in and ‘eliminate’ her.
”You didn’t answer my earlier question. Why go after a protector god?
Correspondent 251 replied, "It's the one god we knew of a way to target. Prior members of YPNR had actually captured a god but her source of worship was so esoteric that her destruction would likely prove impossible.
On the matters of your efforts, perhaps my words were too minimalistic considering you did assist us in defeating your ground criminal when he attacked us. Perhaps improper wording can't be helped when one is under duress. Still, can't you witness the safety we have here in our magicless country compared to on the ground?"
"Oh and no, you probably wouldn't have permanently killed me when the building blew up. Just removed me from this plane," Cinniúint interjected as she casually leaned against the wall.
“I have witnessed your ‘magicless’ safety. A society so ordered and structured, it is sterile. So rigid in its adherence to logic and numbers, calculations and equations, that everything, right down to the trees and grass you plant…
To me, your society exists, but you do not live. Not truly. You isolate yourselves like a science experiment, looking down on the rest of us like we’re a petri dish.
You speak of the world of the ground being on fire, of my actions (and those of my companions) snuffing out matches. Yet I believe that my actions have done more good than anything your grand intellectual group has ever accomplished!
I protect the innocent, where you hunt and capture. I stand against the wicked, whereas you have employed them. I want free will and cooperation to prosper, to bring people together by choice. You produce foods and drinks that can moderate and suppress that.
But most of all, you claim to serve ‘The Greater Good’. Yet you use it to justify death. I despise the very concept when twisted that way.
I would sacrifice my life in the defence of others, for the happiness of others. You speak of sacrificing the few, for the good of all. I cannot abide that, nor will I allow it. We will tear down your gun before your harm another innocent in your vainglorious assertion that magic and the gods must be dealt with.”
Turning towards the new arrival, Omega was not surprised.
”I wondered when you would reappear. Lady of Games and Chance.”
When Correspondent 251 spoke of the safety of her magicless country, Patch couldn't help but remember rampaging through the place, just hours earlier. You're not as safe as you think. Magic is not a force that you can tame so easily. In fact...
Her thoughts came to a sudden halt when Cinniúint made her presence known. Patch was on her feet in an instant. She wasn't sure what was about to happen, but she knew she needed to be ready for whatever it was.
Nodding, Kage shook himself as Cinniuints words putting things into perspective. His (sometimes) penchant for fixating on what is right in front of him.
”Correct.” Looking down at 251, Omega crossed his arms.
”Final question before we leave you in the dark so you can stew in ignorance for while.
We know where Elizalah and the manual control are. Where are the controls for your oversized pea shooter laser?”
Then he stepped closer to Destron and spoke softly.
”I intend to leave our ‘guest’ here when we leave. She is restrained, blinded and, once regagged, incapable of summoning help. Pragmatism may dictate death, but I refuse to do that. Mostly because that seems to be what she expects of us. Save your anger and your mighty blade for the upcoming battle. Their gun needs cutting and I think only your blade has the power to do it. Let us save your home and prove these mathematical zealots wrong about goddesses and magic.”