|Sometimes, I get to be the 10th Doctor. Or the 11th. Sometimes. I don't know, it just happens.|
There are currently five people living in the house when I'm not around. Green Man, Forgemaster, Spinner, Weaver, and Cutter. You'd think it'd feel crowded. Then again, I haven't spent more than two weeks here at any given time since March.
It was before I'd found out that Konaa had gotten himself into serious trouble. And that Nessa needed to be picked up.
I had no idea how crazy the night would get. Not until I'd gotten up to my room and spotted a neat stack of sticky notes on my door.
The first one said, "Prepare yourself. Remember your restraint."
I twitched. How the fuck did Time Lord get this stack of stickies into my house, and onto my door? I decided to save that question for later. I honestly didn't care. I was tired, I started to push open the door, and then I noticed another sticky note underneath the stack. It didn't come off with the rest of them.
"You should listen to the man. -r"
Redlight was sitting on one of the two chairs I keep in my room. Specifically, my damn comfy black padded office chair. I could sit in that damn thing for hours and feel comfortable the whole damn time, and there was Redlight sitting in it. He was in his trademark hoodie, and with only the desk lamp on, his face was wreathed in shadows. It didn't matter though. Lets face it, he could make his face look different every time if he wanted to. He brushed a single black leaf off his shoulder, which burned in blue fire on hitting the ground. He may have found a way into my house, but the billion odd defensive wards I'd placed around the building did not like him. A little trail of smoke rose between us from that black leaf, and I thought about what I should do.
Time Lord said I should be restrained. I really didn't want to do the whole "restraint" thing right about then. I wanted to pick his sorry ass up and throw it out the damn window. Especially after that conversation he had with Ryuu. As much as I preach nonlethal action in all things, I know a dog that needs to be put down when I see it. But at the end of the day, I couldn't kill him and keep him dead at this point. Not yet anyway.
He casually regarded me, making a little soundless 'quiet' motion, and pointed upstairs. I gave him a small nod. No sense bringing my five odd roommates into this.
I pulled my other chair from the door to put an even distance between me, the burning leaf, and him, and closed the door behind me. I sat down.
I said, "You're in my chair."
"I didn't think you'd mind."
We sat there for a long moment, until the leaf finished burning to nothing, leaving a little black spot on the floor. He picked up Nessa's old Jade Dragon figurine off the table. I'd spent some time purifying it on the road, and it had gone from black to a shade of very dark green. As he examined it, it started to grow darker.
"You know. I was asked not to kill you. The little message you added at the end was a nice touch."
He laughed softly, "You keep a lot of interesting friends." Redlight motioned upstairs.
"I read about your little visit to Morningstar. Based on what I felt across the flow of energy in the world when that bastard took his shot, I'd say you're honestly passing out shit that gives the Tree a direct line into this world. You've got Apocalypse Juice. You do realize that, right?"
I spend a lot of time at night staying awake thinking about how the world will end. I've explained what happens if the Barrier, Veil, call it what you will, drops some day. Read it again if you're curious. Long story short, the hole created whenever someone takes a shot from the case Morningstar got brings the world closer and closer to a shattered Veil. Eleven more people like that and it's lights out on planet Earth.
"Gee, a juice that spawns ungodly monster trees, that helps..." He emphasized the words with hand gestures, and they were shaking as he made them, "shimmer' reality to pieces, due to some sort of dimensional bleeding, yes, I know." He relaxes, "If I can't win, no one can. I'll go that route...if I have to."
As he says this, I can't help but think: The end of the world is coming, and it'll be brought by a supervillain with Parkinson's.
"Don't act like you hadn't talked to your sage pal, Hakurei." He gave me an exasperated gesture. "I figured you might not be one to help rid me of the tree...but," He said with a bit of emphasis, "You ARE one to help get rid of the tree itself. You know the danger this...loathesome and twisted thing can do." He dropped his hands, "At least with your everyday horror stories, its smaller scale."
"Admittedly, it's not a demonic army trying to turn the world into their outpost, and It's not a rampaging god-thing. Incidentally, you never did get back to me when I asked you for a game of Gomoku."
He shrugged, "Been busy, we'll schedule it for next week...assuming you don't have 300 trees to try to purify by that point." Redlight fumbled a little with Nessa's little jade dragon, "This stuff brings back old memories. So why is it that jade sort of leeches a person's energy? I always thought quartz was some purifying force."
This was not how I thought how this discussion would go. I laughed a little. Then I said:
"I honestly couldn't tell you. There were seven specific rocks that I researched, that don't exist in this world. Crystals and the new age folderol were never part of my bag. Well not THAT New Age Folderol specifically."
He shrugged, "Always more to learn. Which brings it back to me, and us. and about what this is really about." Redlight leans in a bit, "Immortality."
He opened my desk drawer and pulled out a pair of glasses and a bottle of scotch I've been saving.
"Immortality...as I have discovered is not as definite, nor as illustrious as I had dreamed once. To be able to do limitless research, and explore the vast potential of life. And yet, with my grasp weakened, returning to the natural order, I find myself in a place of shock, and daresay desperation." He sniffed at the liquor bottle, savoring the smell, before pouring himself a glass. He then continued, "It vexes me to have to come to such a cliche move as to ask one who sees me as an enemy, to ask for help. Well yes, of course you see me as evil, as a manipulator. Indeed I am, but my goals and yours are not so very different. Well the difference between us then is that while I have attained my own, it is a bit...temporary, still. For now. I'm sure you could laud the 'proper methodology' for such things, or even praise death as part of the natural order. Feel free to prattle on about it, I've heard it all before."
At times like these, it amazes me how little people actually know about me. Then again, there's a lot that I haven't had a chance to tell you all, so I guess it shouldn't surprise me. The first thing I did, was drink some of my scotch.
Then I responded, "Actually, I represent immortality for at LEAST two of the things that take up residence in my form. They sort of live on. I suppose through an exploration of my past lives, and they way I do remember them, I count as immortality for those past selves as well. They live on whenever I remember them, and can act through me as necessary. I call myself Amalgamation for a reason. A billion odd parts connected together working toward a common goal, living on forever so long as the cycle continues. I'd say my form of immortality is better. An eternity of evolutions toward something more, I suppose."
He shrugged, "Better, perhaps, but the idea of a 'past life' is an irritant. It's a sign of loss, and even of weakness. Though to be sure, having to hollow out another shell to live as a parasite is hardly one worthy of praise. This is my problem with 'past lives'." He took a drink as he leaned forward, "To have a past life, one must die, in some metaphorical way. I believe myself too stubborn to relent in such a manner. There is too much knowledge, too much to lose in death. Not all of it could be recovered, even with a rebirth of any sort. I've learned a many things, perhaps far later in life than you, I've learned the difference of a great many paths in life, and walked a path of leaves that is neither here nor there, yet connects to the world itself. And I've seen the very chemicals of the mind, that produce love and hate. And I've started to realize, that these things are far more connected than an average person might think."
I finished my drink as he spoke. I poured myself another, considering this.
Then I said, "In this, I am at a disadvantage. I'm young in this life, and though I've experienced many strange and unusual situations, I do not have the kind of understanding that I know I had in other lives about who I am and what I do. Still, to say that to die is a form of weakness is not correct. Where I learn the martial arts, they would call that believing in self above all things, whereas the way of progress as a martial artist involves denying self and thus acheiving more by forgetting your own frailties and strengths and thus surpassing both. In a way, it ends up acheiving a greater totality of self by denying it, grasping at true potential. In a way by allowing yourself to die and denying the idea of one self being better than any potential future self, you actually continue to strengthen yourself with limitless possible potential. And as you continue to draw on those past lives, the most current one becomes the strongest possible life. You call death weakness, I call it the strength that allows for the continued turning of the wheel of the universe...with each revolution picking up more speed and power and eventually burning hotter than the sun. Perhaps it's time to give up the ghost, and see how much more the next life will bring? I can't promise you'll be a Shaman every time, but every now and then you get something VERY special."
I sipped my scotch and smiled.
Redlight smirked softly, finished his own scotch. He raised a finger as I finished, "Surpassing yourself. Yes I do believe that is exactly what I intend to do. I'm not a seeker of godhood, or any of those trite faceless claims of those who simply garner power. I want something far different. And yet it seems, I shan't get another chance as it is, to 'try another go' in this kharmic wheel you believe in." He sets the drink aside, drained. "For even if I did have a soul left, I'm sure my current stalker will devour that as well." He pauses, "So what then for those others I have contained as a host? Will it stay its end with me, or will it develop a taste for more, hmm? And what of the other unfortunates, doomed by a certain overzealous maniac who happened upon a briefcase of contagion..." He motions to himself, "That one fool sought to analyze and control something that exceeded his grasp." He muses, "Hmm, so what then, what happens to those when I am devoured?"
"That's where people like me come into play. Sometimes, something tries to shift the balance. Somebody crosses the line, and plays with things they don't understand. I clean up messes for a living. Zero might have been a psychopathic manchild with a sword and a penchant for murder, but he was hard to kill, and he tried to do the right thing before the tree got him. Robert may have brought us all together like no one ever has before, but he was also a deranged lunatic who brought something into this world that was not meant to be here. Sadly, it becomes MY job to clean up their fuck ups. The tree is on my To-do list. So are you, incidentally. Really, it was Scott in Strepdeckstrasse that was the last straw for me."
We were silent for a while. I was smiling that little smile that everyone who's ever tried to kill me gets to see now and then. You know the one. The one I get right before something completely ridiculous happens. Redlight sat there and drank his scotch, keeping one hand stable with the other.
Then the moment was lost, and we both remembered what was at stake: a briefcase full of Planet-Kill, and who would control it.
He said, "So what I need, is this tree off my back. Literally. And what YOU need is to restore the balance by finding a way to kill it. Take that briefcase of mine completely out of the picture."
Don't you hate it when you forget that there's a reason why Dr. Doom STILL rules all of Latveria after all these years?
"I've been debating dropping back into that world Kay was forced to visit a while back, and testing the theory of 'wood is flammable' as being universal. I don't exactly want to do that until I know the connection between it and SlenderDouche."
Redlight sighed, adjusting himself in the chair, uncomfortable, "The only connection I've seen is that, he ripped me to pieces last time he saw me, after..." He pointed to his neck, showing me the vicious scar, "This. So I suppose this means I'm a free agent." He laughed darkly, "So ..." he leaned in, "This is the part where you refuse to help me, and we both watch the world burn."
I leaned back in my chair, considering this. After some thought, I decided on Honesty:
"You know, this isn't the first time I've stared at the end of the world."
"And what did you do then?" He seemed more amused than interested.
I said, "Totally fucked it up and turned it into someone else's problem the first time. Then I apparently fixed things the second time, except I don't actually remember doing anything, so SOMETHING screwy was going on. Honestly, neither were great victories for science or civilization or anything in particular."
"Its talk like that that brings out the scientist in me, to evaluate exactly how much of what you say is what is real, and what you just 'remember' being real." He leaned back, letting the words sink in, "So what about all those unfortunates out there, caught in my web, just another body to be used? The ones that live their lives, and experience blackouts, maybe wake up with injuries, maybe don't wake up at all." He leans forward, a smug grin, "Like maybe some of your fellow bloggers?"
I decided to completely ignore the subtext of his statement. I said, "You know. I can actually feel the web your connected to. The sympathetic links you follow to travel into each body. It's fascinating. You're not so much a person a this point as you are an idea. An old, sickly idea that's losing it's touch. You really think that swapping into the 11 year old girl will fix everything?"
Redlight sighed, "We just went over this, didn't we? We both postured about whose idea of immortality was best, that's done.....but the concept of becoming an Idea...well that, interests me greatly actually. I've never really cared about 'ruling the world' or bloated villain talk like that, but maybe being an idea isn't quite as bad as you're considering it to be."
"I'm warning you Redlight. No good can come from the subjugation of a little girl's mind, and the rape of her soul. There are lines that even the lords of hell won't cross."
I can be pretty cheesy sometimes, can't I?
"Then why do they let monsters like 'him' and me live, hmm? Let me tell you why...because there's not as much moral guidelines in the world as you'd like to think. I can name fifty people who've done things as bad as me, and worse. There IS NO KARMA, there is only choice." He stood up, "Like this choice...I can leave now, and I can trust, you'll do what needs done.." He walked past me toward the door, then turned around, "Because you're a 'good guy' and you are the 'savior of time' or whatever." He pauses at the doorknob, "Don't forget what I said, there's more than one blogger out there that I've gotten my hands on and taken, 'hollowed' or 'redlit' whatever you want to call it."
And that's about when the gears started turning in my head again. And that smile of mine returned to my face, "Oh yes. I think I can do what needs to be done. Although, I'm not sure which fortune cookie you got 'savior of time' out of. Does this look like Legend of Zelda to you? Still. I need to look into that tree anyway. Why not?"
"You do that. Play the hero, like you want to be. I'll be watching."
"You think I'm trying to be a hero? Whatever."
And then I found out what happened to Konaa and Nessa. I ran off, picked Konaa's sorry ass off the Train tracks. After I got him to the hospital, I went and picked up Nessa.
I'm really not worried about any of this though. Because I saw all kinds of things when I met Redlight in person. I really did see the web of connections between him and his others. And I saw where he really is: Stuck inside the Tree somewhere in it's insane world, slowly being eaten away as he tries to escape, dodging from body to body. It's facts like that which help me sleep at night. So now I'm going to do exactly what I said I would do.
I looked at the Post-It Notes afterwards. The next one after the first said:
"That went well."
I asked, "How the hell did you get these in here?!"
The next one said, "I handed them to Redlight with a top sticky that said, 'Place this on Nick's Door.'"
I stared at them, I tore it off to reveal, "I guess he added one."
I wonder if Time Lord really is trying to kill me sometimes.