Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

November 28, 2012

Spirit Showdown #6: The Convict

Hey, have you ever heard of that anime Kikaider?

Well, I suppose technically it should be that franchise Kikaider; as I understand it, there was a live-action version that predated the anime by a few decades.  But I know the anime -- few episodes that there were -- best, thanks to its Adult Swim run.  I liked the show; in fact, I liked it so much that I thought, “Hey, what if I made a story like that?”  And it didn’t take long for a story to start taking


form.  And by “form” I mean pretty much a carbon copy.  Only instead of a grim and introspective yet gentle fighting machine, it featured a grim and introspective yet gentle fighting fox-boy.  And instead of fighting furious robots, my guy would fight furious mutated animals.  And of course, it wouldn’t have been a story without that much-adored “I have amnesia that obscures incredibly vital details” angle.  And he would be such a deeply-disturbed and fragile little flower; hell, the


plan was to actually call the story “Altered Soul.”  Consider yourselves fortunate that it was just a phase, and that the story never got too far past the concept and initial planning; call it an evolutionary dead-end.  That story has long since been buried, and the characters therein have either been erased or transformed into entirely new entities with entirely new personalities.  Is it better now?  I think so, most definitely.  Is it good now?  Theoretically, I think it stands a chance.  Do I like it more this way?  Well, I have to say


Uh…do what now?


Okay, now THAT I understood.  So what do I do about it?


Oh, you’ve gotta be…!  I haven’t even started on my bucket list!

[ESTIMATED TIME UNTIL UNIVERSAL COLLAPSE…well, who’s to say, really?  It could happen today, tomorrow, or even yesterday.  Don’t you just love how unpredictable the fabric of reality can be?

Oh nuts.  It’s that time again, isn’t it?

What's with that face?

I'm not making a face.

I know.

...Now that's just plain --

You had your reprieve.  And now it’s time for you to begin your work in earnest.  I’m actually looking forward to what you put forth…with a bit of input from yours truly every now and then. 

And just to be clear, reality isn’t in danger, right?

Oh, my, no.  I was just kidding.

Joking about the end of the world…not cool, dude.

Oh, so you’ve grown cross with me?  Forgive me…would it help if I told you the world really WAS in danger? 

Why would that be of any help?

Because it’s the truth --it’s just not one that will happen immediately.  But don’t despair, my friend.  As long as you act accordingly, it’s a fate you can easily prevent.  In fact, I’ll even set you on your way to overcoming the adversity that draws ever nearer -- IF you entertain me as needed.

Entertainment, huh?  Well, I don’t know if I’m up to the task, but if it’ll help save the universe and all that, I’d better give it a shot.

Splendid.  Then let’s begin.

All right.  I guess I should start by saying --

Now just hold on there.  I think you’ve done enough.

Wait, what?  How am I supposed to get through this post, then?

Oh, don’t worry.  I just thought it might do you well if you took a -- oh, what’s the word?  “Backseat” this time around.  Ah, backseat; you know, I’ve always wanted to try riding in one of those cars you humans are so proficient in creating.  Feeling the wind in my hair, as one would say.

Uh…right, then.  So what should I do?

No need for confusion.  We’ll have our dialogue, as you so often had with that jolly young man.  But I suspect it would be more beneficial if you and I switched roles.  As I’m the one living through the story, you can ask me all the questions you want, and I can answer them as well as any other would-be hero. 

Okay, I can do that.  It’ll be weird, but I’ll pull something together.

And in exchange…well, we’ll discuss that in full a bit later.

You sure know how to make a guy feel apprehensive.

Thank you.  I’ve practiced my art for four billion years, so I suppose it’s only natural for me to be a bit of an expert.

(This is gonna be one of those days, isn’t it?)

Uh, wait, hold on a second.  Let me see if I’ve got this right.  You’re…well, you’re one of my characters -- someone I created and refined over the course of several years.

That’s correct.

And one way or another, you’ve crossed over from my mind and into this space -- this blog -- so you could interact with me via this post?  Which I’m pretty sure is actually a Word file written beforehand and pasted into the box?

Not in the slightest.


Let me ask you a question: are you so certain you’re merely posting documents onto the internet for the world -- or at least a billionth of it -- while bathed in the glow of a cheap laptop?  Are you so certain you’ve divorced your real self from your online persona and the digitized haven therein?

Well, yeah.  I mean, this is all just an act when you get down to it.  I’m the one typing and putting up images and videos, and when I’m done I can just turn off the laptop and grab some hot dogs.  Pretty simple stuff.

Is it?

I think so.  Not like there’s much evidence to suggest otherwise.

Well now.  I suppose we’ll see if that opinion of yours changes along the way.  I have a strong suspicion that it will, but the sheer density of your hair may deflect any new knowledge.  But enough talk.  I think you owe me a bit of an introduction.

You mean you want more? I pretty much explained your design philosophy in the intro.  You started out as a tortured little daffodil, but I got older and turned you into something else.  And as you changed, your world changed -- both the characters, and the setting itself.  You’re not even on Earth for the duration of the story; there’s a pretty strong argument that you’re not even in the same era.  That’s about all I can say for now…except I decided to make you a coyote-boy instead of a fox-boy. 

Arbitrarily, I’d assume.

More or less.  Hey, wait a second -- if you came from my head and remember that you’re one of my characters, then --

Oh, let’s save that for a bit later.  There’s still something you owe me -- or would you prefer for me to do the honors?

No, I think I can --

Nonsense.  I think I’ll give it a try.  For you see, my spirit is that of…


A light that shines without limits, and speeds throughout the cosmos…a force untouched, uncatchable, and unyielding, ever-radiant as it darts along its self-made path…that is who I am, and what I release into the world.

(It’s more fun when I do it, though…)

You seem distraught.  Sad that I stole your thunder?

Little bit, yeah.  And I’m not a hundred-percent sure what I should do about this mock-interview.

Then allow me to begin the festivities.  Let me ask you a question: what do you think of animals?

Besides bugs and sea creatures, they’re all right.  I know from experience that dogs can be a bit of a hassle, but you could probably say the same about any other animal out there if you spend enough time with them.  So all in all, they’re a pretty wild bunch…no pun intended.

No matter.  At any rate, where do you think they come from?  Dogs, and cats, and bears, and all?

I’m not much in the way of science, but I guess it’s from millions -- probably billions of years of evolution.  Everything went from single-celled organisms to the complex creatures we have today…you know, thanks to adaption and environments and probably more than a little luck.

Luck?  So you’d assume that everything you know upon your planet is the result of random chance?  A biological luck of the draw?

I can’t offer a much better explanation, so yeah.

Heh heh.  That’s cute.  But what if I told you that the creatures that live among you humans weren’t merely the result of such random chance?  What if they were placed there with a certain design in mind?  A purpose?

Considering that you’re my creation, it’s kind of silly for you to ask, isn’t it?  I already know what you’re going to --

Hush now.  Don’t break character; it would be rather unpleasant for you if you spoiled the act now.

…What kind of purpose, then?

Simple, really.  Animals exist to test humanity -- to see if they have the strength, intelligence, and wisdom to claim their “rightful” place as the masters of their world.  They are there to push mankind to its limits; encounters with frightful beasts to unlock their hidden potential, or perhaps to bond with the more docile creatures, or perhaps merely to give the humans something to explore -- to know the unknowable about the silent beings that surround them at all times.

I guess that makes sense.  So from what you’ve said here, I take it that you’re the one who made it possible for animals to spread across Earth?

Oh, I’ve done more than that.  I laid the foundation for everything you know, my friend.  The animals.  The air you breathe.  The water you drink.  The ground you walk upon.  The flow of time.  Humanity itself.  All of them are the result of my work from ages ago.  I set up all the pieces -- and what you, human or animal, do is a result of your free will and actualization of your potential.  I am content to watch, if you are content to act.

So what you’re saying is…you mean that…

That’s correct.  I am what you would call a god.

…I sure hope my grandma isn’t reading this.  She’s really into religion.

I wouldn’t worry about that.  Even if she were, surely she’d recognize the purely-fictional ponderings of her grandson, yes?  What is a story but a string of well-told lies -- a spiel on worlds that have never been, and never will be?  

Even so, you can never be too careful when it comes to the internet.

Please.  If you had taken heed of your own advice, you wouldn’t even be in this situation. 

I’m not sure if I follow, but I guess it’d be better if I saved all my questions for the end.  In any case, what’s your world like?  That seems like the next step in the interview.

Astute as always, my dearest friend.  Your cleverness rivals my own.

(It’d help if it didn’t sound like you were making fun of me.)

My world is one that exists far-removed from your own.  It is more than a bit naturalistic; it lacks the technology and architecture endemic to your planet, and the mere concept of harnessing energy is a foreign one to the average beast’s sensibilities.  In exchange, we have something just as valuable, if not more: in addition to the sacred power that flows around us like water, we have a world devoted to the understanding and cultivation of the spirit, with all the deliberations therein.

So in addition to a planet full of beast-men like you, and a world that’s full of some kind of energy --

We call it “aether”.

Right.  Aether.  So in addition to that, you also have an entire society that eschews the sciences and technology so you can all spend your days being philosophers?

That’s correct. 

That’s gotta be interesting.

“Interesting”?  Oh, I keep forgetting; you’re still just a human.  “Interesting” is far from the word I would use to describe it.  “Boring”, perhaps.  “Foolhardy”, perhaps.  “Pointless, fallacious, ludicrous”…any one of those words could do the task. 

Consider what would happen if such a scenario were to grip your world.  Imagine if there was no need for money, food, or shelter, where the need to uphold the law -- or even commit a crime -- is nothing more than a faint mirage.  Imagine a world where there is not only a divorce from fear or desire, but from the concepts, ideas, and in some cases even the emotions that offer some semblance of a well-to-do mind.  Now imagine a world where all of that is not only missing, but the absence is hardly even noted -- all so its denizens can continue focusing on reaching some philosophical zenith.

You’ll forgive me if I come off as a bit testy while reminiscing about “home sweet home.”

Hey, it’s all right.  It gets rough at home sometimes.  We’ve all been through that.

How touching.  If your sympathy was a bit less transparent and meaningless, I might actually have a tear or two in my eye.

It was worth a shot.

No it wasn’t.  But in any case, let’s return to the task at hand.  My world is one of would-be philosophers searching for answers to questions that hardly need asking -- a quest they can and have continued since their inception, and shall pursue throughout countless reincarnations.  Their immortality is made possible by way of The Helix, a pair of interlocked auroras that hover over the world, ever-visible regardless of the time or climate.  Since we “beast-men”, as you so call us, are at our cores energy emitted from The Helix, as long as we can return to it we can replenish ourselves, converse with others within it, and if we so desire discard our old bodies for new ones.  As such, you can think of one’s life in terms of cycles rather than years -- descending to the planet to explore and debate with others walking the earth, and ascending back to The Helix to discuss findings with those traversing its luminous form.

The ultimate reward for finding the answer is Union -- perfect synchronization with The Helix.  To gain full knowledge means to ascend to a higher plane of thought and being; that is, to become an unflinching, implacable part of the light that twists throughout the sky.  It is the highest honor of my world, but in the billions of years that have elapsed there are only a handful of enlightened ones that can lay claim to the title of “ascended”.

A world of philosophers, huh?  I guess it sounds good on paper, but it seems like it’s a world that’d have plenty of problems.  You might be able to get by without an economy or law enforcement, but it seems like there’d still be a lot of missing necessities.  What about art?  And music?  And math?  I guess there has to be some kind of education going on, but it’s dangerous for even a group of people to be so single-minded, let alone an entire planet.

So now we see eye-to-eye...relatively speaking.

I can’t say that I know all the particulars, but right now I’m more inclined to agree with you than anyone else.

Precisely why you’d make a perfect follower -- and why you’d willingly help me bring down my society, my planet, and The Helix itself in its entirety.

Uh, well, I don’t know if I’d go that far.

Just kidding.  I know you’re a coward.

(Walked right into that one…)

No matter.  After all, I already waged war on my world once before.  I had grown weary of their conventions, and of their single-minded devotion to an outcome without profit, benefit, or merit.  I knew that I had to free them from the cycle they had enclosed themselves within…and so I made a stake.  I built an army, marched across the land, and laid waste to my oppressors, all in the hopes of building a bloody staircase to the core of The Helix.

(Maybe I really am bad at making heroes.)

Don’t make that face.  Surely you suspect that I did more than just spearhead a massacre?  Why, the impetus for my act was as much my frustration with the conventions of the world as it was an act of love.  For you see, there is a certain quality amongst my kind; we can reincarnate almost indefinitely, but our first descent into the world gives us our Source -- our original bodies, and the most powerful if harnessed correctly. 

But somewhere along the line, something went wrong for my sister.  She was forsaken by The Helix; she was not only refused the opportunity to change forms, but given a grotesque body as her Source -- one that invites scorn and prejudice, whether she resides on earth or in heaven.  So I did what any loving big brother would do; using my talent and intelligence, I created a new world for her.  One in which she could inhabit at her leisure, as well as gain a reprieve from the world of idiots.

You created an entire planet for one girl?

You sound surprised.  I assure you, I’m capable of many feats if I put in a bit of effort.  But in any case, yes -- I am responsible for the creation of Earth, at least in my universe.  I took elements from my own world and adapted them, and broke down the components of the beast-men around me so as to create a superior product; essentially, I removed nearly all of their ability for rational thought and intelligence.  In my eyes…well, eye…they didn’t need it.  Of course, there was one species that could keep its capacity for thought -- the very same that my “grotesque” sister embodied.

You mean...seriously?

That’s right.  My sister is, by nature, a human.  And because of it, she met with unyielding hatred.

But she’s all right now, right?

I certainly hope so.  I wouldn’t know; I haven’t seen her in billions of years.  That’s the funny thing about waging war on a planet -- all it takes is one minor betrayal by your brother to have you irrevocably scarred, your revolution brought to a grinding halt, and your magnificent self locked within the confines of an underground prison for as long as the time needed to create the average star.

I suppose I should consider myself thankful.  They merely kept me locked away, instead of executing me outright.  And when they dispensed with the niceties billions of years later and decided to execute me merely because of my past crimes, I made my move.  I went on the offensive, made my claim, and escaped to the brave new world I’d created. 

And I would have stayed there, if not for a certain call to arms.  The beast-men had discovered the location of Earth -- and with it, they had every intention of wiping it out as a means to protect their own Helix-dependent world.  So I had to mobilize first.  I returned home, with every intention of finishing the work I had started. 

In order to save one world, I would have to destroy another.

And that, my dear friend, is precisely where my story begins.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…wow.  Hey, uh, look man, I’m really sorry about that.  I mean, really sorry.  If I had known that putting characters through rough patches actually had real effects, I would’ve just given you all a big party and called it a day.

What are you apologizing for?  Adversity builds character.

But billions of years of adversity?  Are you kidding me?  That’s the kind of thing that’d drive someone insane.  I don’t know how you managed to keep it all together.

Hey.  Hey, uh, FX?  You didn’t…you didn’t answer me there.  Did you hear me?

…Heh heh heh…


Let’s move on, shall we?  I hear you’re quite the fan of fighting games. 

Yeah, that’s right.  Can’t say I’m the best at them, but I like what they offer and what they stand for.

Then I assume you’re familiar with this jolly fellow?

Of course.  That’s BlazBlue’s Hazama.  He’s a tricky fellow, and he’s pretty famous in the fandom for being a first-class troll.  Of course I don’t actually play as Hazama, so I can’t say I know all the mechanics of…uh…wait a minute.  Why exactly do you ask?

I like the cut of his jib. 

You know that Hazama is one of THE villains of the franchise, right?

Your point being?

Nothing, nothing.  Just thought I’d make sure you were well-informed. 

If it’s any consolation, I have my own fighting style.  You know me as a member of the “Speed Trio”, so of course my movement speed is top notch.  Granted I don’t have the warp speed of Cobalt or the aerial sovereignty of Shino, but my attack power is the highest of the three.  My offense, as a result, is more than a bit…shall we say, lethal.

But your arms are chained up.

And when has that ever been a deterrent? 

Huh.  Considering the existence of characters like Cody Travers, Regal Bryant, and Kanbei Kuroda, not often.

Good boy.  It doesn’t matter what part of my body is chained up; so long as it exists, I can use it to attack.  But the key to my strategy is “punishment”. 

You mean attacking enemies when they mess up their attack?

It goes beyond that.  I excel at dodging and evasion -- to the point where I very nearly have a sixth sense -- in addition to my high movement speed.  Essentially, any enemy that tries to attack me is liable to miss and leave themselves wide open to counterattack, even if they’ve made no mistakes.  Of course, you could argue that just by facing me they've made a mistake.

But my true skill is my ability to curse my enemies.  I have a slew of light-based attacks that are an extension of my will -- but, I can use said will to afflict my opponents as needed.  What will happen to them?  Who’s to say, really?   I suspect it would involve some form of debilitation, but I suppose it all depends on what sort of mood I’m in…and the mood of those that would stand against me.

Fast, good attack power, a punishing style, and the ability to curse opponents…sounds like top-tier material.

To be fair, I’m severely lacking in the range department.  But then again, if I’m controlling my opponent’s attacks, position, and even strategy, do I really need to have ranged attacks?

Guess not.  But what’s this about “moods”?  Mind control is more than a little unfair, don’t you think? 

Don’t misunderstand me.  I have no intention of controlling minds; free will is something I put quite a bit of stock in, you see.  But in order to access and generate some of my high-end “magic”, for lack of a better term, I have to harness the thought energy -- the emotions -- of those around me.  Of course, there are other reasons for my mental parasitism than just feeding my plans.

Like what?

If I don’t harvest emotions, then I’ll die.

But you’ve done all right so far.  And you look…uh…well?

We beast-men don’t age in the conventional sense, but we’re not immortal.  Communion and travel to The Helix is as much a means to gain knowledge as it is a means to stay alive; combined with the aether that flows around us and acts as our sole requirement for nutrition, merely living in the world and acting on its conventions is nearly enough to earn eternal life. 

As you can imagine, this has left me in a bit of a situation.  I’ve been cut off from The Helix for thousands of millennia, and my body actively rejects aether rather than absorb it.  As such, you’ll forgive me if I need to find alternate sources of nourishment…and if I look a bit emaciated.

So you need to draw emotional responses from people to keep living.

More or less…although it’s more of a quick fix than a long-term solution.  It’s very likely that in spite of my efforts, I am indeed dying -- dying at a remarkably slow pace, but dying nonetheless.

Sorry about that.

No need for the sympathy.  I merely intend to do what little work I can for as long as I can; it’s more than a bit beneficial to the cause of myself, the beast-men to come, and of course that azure world you and I so adore.

I get it.  So you’re a hero to humankind, but an enemy to beast-kind. 


But that’s gotta be rough on you, right?  You’re one man…er, coyote, going up against an entire planet.  Isn’t it hard to try and take down your homeland for the sake of the human race?  Can you really fight against friends and family for a cause that’s not only misunderstood, but outright rejected?  Can you go on the offensive just because you believe you’re right, and everyone else is wrong?

If my Earth was the same as your Earth, would you really be asking this question?

That may be true, but this isn’t just about protecting the human race.  Forsaking one planet for another isn’t something that anybody can or should do -- at least, not easily.

Lest you forget, my fellow beasts have gladly done the same.  And the choices I make are choices undertaken to counter their offenses; I won’t spare anyone that stands in my way, but I’ll allow others to do as they wish…to an extent.

My ultimate goal is a revolution.  I want nothing more for the beasts to learn to live a life without adherence to such flawed ways of life -- without the reliance on The Helix and its promises of false enlightenment.  The world -- yours and mine -- is a beautiful place.  To ignore it for the sake of ascension is a fallacy…one that I intend to correct by any means necessary.  Given the choice, which would you advocate: a false life?  Or no life at all?

Honestly?  I’d choose a false life.  It may not be the right path, but it’s A path; that’s more than I can say about being dead.  At least I could know that I’m moving toward something, even if it is wrong; it’d be a surefire way to know that I’m doing something to give my life meaning. 


I don’t mind someone trying to claim freedom, but there’s a disconnection you need to keep in mind, FX.  It’s one thing to try and show others a new path, but it’s something else entirely when you try to force your beliefs on others. 

And what would that be?


Heh heh heh…heh ha ha ha!  Oh my -- it looks like I’ve been given a stern-talking to from a human!  Surely this is a lesson I should take to heart!

You can joke around all you want, but if what I've heard is any indication, it’s that karma’s a real bitch.

Oh?  And who said I was joking?  I have every intention of remembering your words, my friend; consider it an agreement between two gods. 

That said, I can’t say I have any intention of wholesale slaughter -- at least, not unless thoroughly provoked.  I’m well aware that among the myriad enemies that I’m destined to face, my brother and especially my sister are well among the ranks.  Innumerable generations may have passed, but there are still countless bonds between us -- bonds that I would prefer to nurture than neutralize.  Killing them is an outcome I will avoid at all costs, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with me and my aims.

And what about everyone else?  They have a right to choose their paths as well.  Stand in their way too much, and you really will be the villain.

Heh heh heh…true enough.  I suppose I’ll just have to strike a balance, then.  But I’m sure I won’t -- or can’t -- do anything too outrageous thanks to a certain someone guiding me…isn’t that right?

Maybe.  But you seem like someone full of surprises.

You flatter me.  But in all honesty, I’m a rather simple character.  All I want is freedom on a universal scale, and I’d gladly put myself at risk to preserve that right.  There are certain rules and principles that I follow, even if they are incomprehensible to others -- lines that even one as flighty and innocent as I refuse to cross.

That said, I hold humanity in much higher esteem than the beasts.  Do you know why?

You’re essentially the parent of humankind; it’s only natural for you to want to protect them.

Partly.  But it’s because humankind, more than those “enlightened” creatures of the world I hail from, is free.  By nature, they refuse to be bound to conventions; any given man, woman, or child is eager to pursue a path of their own choosing, unique and unfit for a unified consciousness.  It is that strength of will, that desire for something more and something personal in their lives that gives them supreme power.  And precisely because of that willpower, they are feared by the beasts; they assume that one day soon, the human race will march upon their world and claim it as their own…perhaps, an outcome that will occur sooner rather than later.

But I have no reason to fear them.  Rather, I welcome the chaos they invite.  I want to see how far they can go.  I want to see what they can do.  I want them to continue to act freely, and show the beasts what true freedom means.  Because if nothing else, they have one significant advantage.

Yeah?  What’s that?

They’re so much more interesting.

I would’ve figured you’d say “because humans have the internet”, but I guess that answer works too.

Given that technology is a byproduct of refusal of conventions, conceit, and laziness, I’m wondering if that’s actually a point in the species’ favor.

Dude!  The internet is a part of our lifeblood!  Here, I’ll show you -- have a theme song!

Ah, yes, of course.  It’s thanks to the internet that I’m even here, isn’t it?

Yeah, that’s…wait, what?

As I recall, you were hoping for answers.  And seeing as how you’ve managed to entertain me -- at least, to the best of your ability -- I suppose I should reward you.

Oh, yeah.  Guess that was part of the agreement.

So there’s something that’s been bothering me for a while now.  Last I checked you were one of my creations -- a character from a story I’ve been mulling over for years.  And I can more or less see how your story’s gonna end.  So does that mean you can too?  Has your story already ended, and you’re just popping in to tease the audience?  Because given what happens, I’d say that’s a rough task for you to handle.

My story is, at once, at its beginning, middle, and end.  All phases have temporarily been merged together, existing at every moment within an enclosed space.  The FX you see before you is just a coalesced version of all the FXes from that chronological merger; we are all existing, and yet we will never exist in the end, save for one.  We merely came here because by virtue of our abilities and planning, we slipped through the boundary to offer our services -- and if possible, restore our worlds to their natural state.

I get it.  So once this is over, you’ll go back to being one FX on a linear path to your story’s end.  And I’m guessing you won’t remember any of this in the long run…that is, if you become anything more than just a bunch of strung-together Word documents.

Who’s to say, really?  Nobody knows how the universe works.

You know you’re doing a pretty good job of sorting out all this cosmology, right…?  Whatever.  Forget it.  What I want to know is, why and how are you here?  And what’s all this got to do with me and my blog?

I told you -- I came here to offer you my services.  There’s work to be done and a battle to be won, and I need to make sure one of its key players is in top form to prevent any severe damage.  This is, essentially, your fault.

What is?

Let me answer that with a question: where are you?

The real world, obviously.

Wrong.  You’re here on Cross-Up, having a conversation with me.

Uh, no.  We’ve already had this conversation; this is just a Word document posted on the internet.  There’s a pretty big gap between reality and fantasy -- the internet and IRL, like they say.

Not anymore.  The boundary is ceasing to exist; in fact, as it stands, you’re lodged in the middle of it. 

I beg your freakin’ pardon?

The internet is a magnificent place.  But I emphasize that it’s a place, not just a collection of information.  The thought energy that you as a species have poured into this sprawling virtual archive has taken on a life of its own, and each time you humans interact with it -- each time you put in even a modicum of investment -- you not only build up that place, but dive deeper into it yourselves.  

You are no exception.  Your blogging efforts have led to you getting deeper and deeper into the virtual space -- this mixture of reality and fantasy.  The problem is, this world has reached critical mass.  Malcontents are eager to take advantage of the inherent chaos, and breach the boundary to wreak havoc as they see fit.  In other words…

Hold on.  Are you saying that I’m diving into the virtual world every time I post?  And I more or less exist in a doppelganger of reality each time it happens?  But what’s happening to the real world while all this is going on?

That’s just it.  The boundary between worlds is crumbling, and it’s only a matter of time until they all dissipate.  Everything you know is nearing its end -- if not because of the overabundance of thought that plagues the worlds, then because of the efforts of a malicious few.

Okay, so how do I stop it? 

That I don’t know.

What?  Then what am I supposed to do?

I hear you humans are fond of “Googling.”  I think you should try that.

Oh, yeah, sure.  I’ll just Google “how to stop reality from imploding.”  I’m sure that’ll turn up a lot of hits.

No need for such irritation, my dearest friend.  You still have two powerful weapons needed to counteract the chaos.  As a blogger, I would expect nothing less.

Please tell me one of those weapons is a sufficiently-powerful gun.

The first weapon is your mind.  Use it accordingly, and I suspect you’ll have more than enough firepower to turn back any invaders.  Of course, you’ll have to learn how to harness that power, but…well, you’ve done a fair job of it thus far.

Okay, and what’s the second weapon?

Isn’t it obvious?  You’re not alone.  Preventing a catastrophe is as simple as calling out a name.

Whose name?  Yours?  Bahamut’s, maybe?

Heh heh…well, maybe mine.  But I have someone else’s in mind.  Someone much more -- and justifiably -- resistant to your little dialogues.

Huh?  Wait…oh, I get it!  You mean that guy!  Yeah, I bet he knows how to get outta this!  Hold on, I’ll call him right now, and together we can fix this problem before Arrow comes on!




I believe I said a name.

Right, right.  Okay, I’ll go ahead and call…uh…er…uh…h-hold on a second, I just gotta get a little warmed up.  Yeah, do a little stretching…clear my throat, and…

…What the hell?  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I think of his name?

Heh heh heh…

Hey!  Why are you laughing?  And where are you going?

My time here is near its end.  And I believe I’ve offered you all you need…save for one last bit of advice.  There’s a lot to be had in a name, my dear friend.  But there are some who have a complex in that regard.  Some who have had their names taken away…and others that have refused them.  If you fail to offer up that sacred name...

Well then, I suppose this will be the last we ever see of each other, isn’t it?

Hey, hey!  Don’t just leave on that!  I need a hand here! I’m way out of my element -- no way am I gonna be able to figure this one out!  Hey!


I’ve always been really bad with names…


  1. So FX is the Coyote trickster of the Native American tribes, with a dash of Shiva, existing in an endlessly loping narrative.

    You just got yourself a very cool antagonist, Mr. Payne

  2. Oh, don't get me wrong -- FX may be a bit...unpleasant...but he's still one of the good guys. Maybe. Probably. Possibly. Potentially. I mean, relative to the guys he's going up against.

    In any case, glad you enjoyed him. I was wondering how things would turn out with this guy, but right now I'm in a good place with him. That said, he's not my favorite of the bunch; that honor (tentatively) goes to a certain someone you'll see in the coming weeks. We'll see if Hero #8 can make you swoon...or at the very least, a psychokinetic electric guitar equipped with a circular saw.

  3. "psychokinetic electric guitar equipped with a circular saw."