I was banished from my family because I can’t be trusted to die.
1 Second Later - Fox - Neutron Star
I land on the smaller neutron star, near a massive, cracked, orb. It glistens like a soap bubble. Rainbows flash madly around it. Refractions of two doomed suns. Ragnarok’s Disco Ball.
There’s a silver woman leaning beside a crack in the orb. Smoking and drinking.
“Welcome!” I say. “Would you mind stepping to the side a little?”
She shrugs, sashays to the side.
I hit the orb. It explodes, spraying shards and space gods over a couple million miles. Inside the depression where the orb sat, a man in a mask stands.
“Masked Man. I’m calling you out.”
He nods once. Steps up.
I extend my body autonomy outside of my body, and send it screaming towards him. I’ve never been able to get past his autonomy protections with my call to nothing. Extending my own autonomy was how I broke his hold over me in the diner. This time, I’m going to bulldoze him with it.
Our autonomous zones crash into each other and splay outwards. The star below us cracks, shudders. The star above us wobbles, enters a new erratic orbit. Between us, reality sizzles, boils away.
I take a step towards him, and the fissure in reality moves his way. He takes a step towards me and it inches back. I feel a tickle at my back. Shit. It’s the other space gods, dozens of them. They’re pushing up behind me. I could blast them back, but that would loosen my attack on the Man in the Mask. I grit my teeth. Force another step forward. Pour it on. I’m only 4 feet from the Masked Man when eldritch tentacles begin to force spikes into my back. Dammit!
I’m having a rare contemplative moment, when a warp portal chops through the tentacled horror that’s about to give me a spinectomy. Stinger walks through.
“Knock, knock, mother fuckers!” she yells, and starts wailing on the space gods with a warp sword.
A dozen more warpers push through the portal. All with silver skin and pirate outfits. Their silver skin is humming with Doc-Danger’s algorithms, keeping the Warpers from being crushed, vapourized, or sent to nothing. Not sure what the pirate outfits are for. Dress for the job you want, I guess.
I feel a hand run gently down my back, easing pain and sealing wounds. I grin. There’s only three people allowed past my autonomy protections, and only one with the nerve to do battlefield surgery when the battle’s still going.
“We got your back, big guy.” says Eve. “Hit’em with the heavy stuff.”
My grin turns fierce. I stagger forward a step. Another. The fissure inches towards the Man in the Mask. Got to wrap this up quick. More space gods are arriving every second. Eve, Stinger, and the Warpers are giving them hell, but if I don't kill the Masked Man soon, they will all die. Mind you, that was also the case before they showed up. The Masked Man was definitely going to kill them today anyway. That's the whole reason I challenged him. Well, I also figure he's making the Halfmen. So, I have a couple reasons for killing him. Which is a shame, because it doesn't look like I'm going to do it.
I'm standing about 2 feet from him, and I've forced the reality fissure a foot closer, but that's all I've got. It's actually starting to edge back. There's nothing I can do about it.
Well fuck. My back up plan was to die gloriously, but now that I have friends here, that feels dickish. I quickly consider my crap options and decide to blast the other space gods. It will leave me open to the Man in the Mask, but I may be able to take out his buddies before he kills me. Then Eve and Stinger will have a chance to defeat or evade the Man in the Mask. Not much of a chance, but honestly they can’t do any worse than I have. Their lives are on the line - they deserve a crack at him.
I’m about to pull my switcheroo, when the star above us detonates. Huh. It doesn’t go nova or anything, it just gets pulverized. Like it was hit really hard. I wonder what did that?
I get my answer a second later, when Robo-Dude broadcasts to the other space miners.
“Back lads! GET BACK! That was The Rumor! And she’s riding heavy!”
That sounds sufficiently ominous for me to strain my true sight a little. I sense millions of proto-stars incoming at relativistic speeds. The crushed star above us is coalescing into a giant neutronium man. He grabs our star. Pulls it closer. The proto-stars crash around us, causing massive sunquakes.
It’s a mass attack. The two neutron stars, with a couple million proto-stars, are heavy enough to collapse into a black hole. Ain’t nobody walking away from that.
High Roller has arrived. He’s all in.
The space gods warp out. Eve and Stinger freeze, unsure of what to do.
“Get after them!” I bark. “If they get away, we’re fucked!”
My friends warp away. Godspeed. The Man in the Mask backs off. He wants to warp, but he can’t risk it when I’m all over him. I grin, charge him. A sun sized fist is setting overhead. The Man in the Mask caves, calls a portal. The fissure in reality is half an inch from him. Fuck it. I drive my hands through, grab him. My hands are boiling off. Hurts like hell, but I got him.
High Roller connects.
I’m floating through space in a cloud of sun dust. Fuck, he broke the other sun. Nice. I bet that hurt. The Man in the Mask, I mean. I feel fine. High Roller’s algorithms are synced with mine, excluding me from damage. We’re fucking professionals. Actually, my hands hurt a lot.
I call up new hands. Eww. That felt gross. Wish I could make myself a new brain. Would’ve saved me a lot of pain over the last couple years. Speaking of which, I feel great. Fresh Start must be mostly burned off. What to do with my last moments?
The crushed remains of the second star become a second huge man. The Man in the Mask uses his colossal body to hammer at High Roller. He uses his autonomy defenses to deflect the rain of stars. He’s trying to control enough of the local mass to prevent a black hole from forming. Lame. Probably work though. Except he seems to have forgotten about me.
I stretch my senses. I’m feeling very little interference. The powers that usually limit me have their hands full. The last time I had this much freedom, I remade the universe. I guess history will repeat.
I make a huge warp portal, a million miles across, leading to the supermassive blackhole at the centre of the universe. The portal’s a ridiculously fragile construct. A warper child could dispel it. But there are no warper children present, just old guys with too much to handle. We get sucked through.
I relax. Sink down into forever. Deeper and deeper. Impossibly deep. A million miles. A billion. Finally, I land on a large bed. It’s orbiting the blackhole, below the event horizon. There’s a beautiful woman in it with me.
“Welcome!” she says.
“Hi.” I gasp. “Ibok sent me. Are you the prisoner?”
Giant, dismembered, body parts rain down around us.
“I’m so sorry.” I say. “I’ve brought danger to your doorstep.”
“Have you?” she grins. “How exciting.”
The colossal form of the Man in the Mask breaches the event horizon. His huge body is orbited by proto-stars and body parts.
“Meh.” she frowns. “That’s disappointing.”
It’s getting hard to move. The connections between my brain and body are fraying. “I’m sorry, I thought the prisoner would be here.”
“Oh, she is.” She cocks her thumb at the black hole. “That’s my girl.”
I scan the black hole. Nobody’s standing on it. Where’s the prisoner? The black hole shifts, unravels, takes the form of galactic sized woman. Oh shit, the black hole is the prisoner. She’s beautiful, naked, gloriously pregnant.
The Man in the Mask blasts her with thousands of proto-stars. The barrage wounds her - fissures that bleed sparkles - but fails to wipe the grin off her face. Many of the sparkles condense into people. A random slice of inter-galactic life. I see the common warper forms, the uncommon warper forms, and exotic forms I’ve never encountered. They've been disturbed from routine activities. Eating, reading, bathing, playing. That said, they don’t look that disturbed. A breastfeeding mother pinwheels by. We make eye contact. She smiles. Winks.
The Masked Man and The Prisoner trade titanic blows. Nova scale blasts erupt from the impacts and are quickly absorbed by their bodies. The Masked Man leans back, sends another barrage of proto-stars. Before they connect, they morph into clouds of Halfmen. Quadrillions of them, surrounding The Prisoner like a plague.
“Mother Fucker!” I knew it! I struggle to get up. I have to end this.
“Easy, big guy.” My bedmate puts a hand on me. Eases me back down. “We got this.”
The sparkles condense faster. More people want out. Many of them form women identical to The Prisoner - except they’re person sized, silver, and not pregnant. They’re outnumbered but unstoppable. They scythe through the Halfmen like mowers through grass. A large contingent of axe wielding minotaurs form as well. Some join the fight, but most use their axes to crack kegs of beer. Flowing ale, more so than battle, disrupts the activities of the sparkle people. Prancing minotaurs slinging suds are harder to ignore than murderous space monsters. Apparently.
My bedmate flags down a couple brew, and tosses one to me. I take a sip. It’s good. Food is brought out. Halfmen clash with silver warriors. A band starts up. Explosions. Fireworks. Screaming. Cheering. Cosmic giants grappling. Kids running with sparklers. A mad-eyed unicorn tramples Halfmen. An octopus gives me a hotdog. There’s an epic cracking sound. The Prisoner is bending the Masked Man, pulling him close. The band is on fire. A silver chick emerges from a fierce skirmish. She’s weeping, cradling High Roller’s broken husk. She wails like a banshee at Satan’s funeral. Raises her fist in the air. Sparkles form around it. She plunges her fist into High Rollers chest. POW!! He’s shocked, battered, made whole. He rises, looks around in amazement, and is pulled back down by the naked silver woman, who kisses him, mounts him, tears at his clothes.
I laugh. Fucking High Roller. Only he could pick up a hot date at his own funeral.
There’s a blinding, deafening, explosion from the cosmic giants. When my vision clears, the Man in the Mask is limp, held up only by the fist driven through his chest. The Prisoner holds him up, stares into his mask. Then, with a few twists of her mighty arms, tears him to shreds. She’s left holding his heart in her hand, which she devours with sensual relish.
“Wow. The Prisoner does not fuck around." I say.
"Her name's Lodestone." says my new friend. "I'm Megacles."
"Pleased to meet you, Megacles. My name's Fox."
"You don't look so good, Fox." She has her fist cocked casually, sparkles forming around it.
"It's okay." I say. "I'm good."
"Damn right you are." She plunges her fist into my chest.