Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Episode 38: Out of the Frying Pan...

Xeno didn’t remember much after the big bang. There was a flash of fire then… Myxlplyx? Really? It was so brief, and hazy. But the pain—the pain was crystal clear. Pain, and a feeling of melancholy as, bewildered and naked, he crawled out of some odd armor onto the deck of a ship that wasn’t Der Chelonian. He found a hatch and slumped into the hold, perhaps to die, naked and burned, clutching Dave like an ape with its cloth mother.

But he didn’t die. Hours later Xeno awoke to some sense of commotion above decks, and with a small cry of pain, forced himself off the deck. He was no stranger to waking up on the floor severely burned, but there was always something to show for it, for good or ill. This offered only agony, confusion and loss, no more. Xeno considered lying there some more, but the pain drove him to seek succor, which he found in a series of potions from a suspiciously (and now formerly) well-stocked aid cabinet.

With relief came clarity of mind, and confusion. First, what had happened? Gradually, an answer presented itself. Something had malfunctioned, dramatically, yet again.

“Why?” thought Xeno. “Why does everything go so horribly wrong? Every time? For everyone? Is there a group somewhere that drifts through life on clouds of rose petals, everything going right to balance it out? Why? Why us? Why me?”

In a flash, it came to him. “All I ever wanted to do was create fiendishly complex devices and occasional weapons of unearthly power, and use them for fun and personal gain. Yet every time, every time, something goes horribly awry. That’s not coincidence. It can’t be.” Looking back over he life, Xeno saw the pattern, again and again: any time he tried something complicated; it failed in the worst possible way. The SnakeStik. Reversible Automatic Armor. Electro-gloves. And, Gods, the horror of the Marshmellator. So much burning sugar. It was as if something in him introduced a chaotic element into every complex system he interacted with. And that was it: chaos.

“It’s me,” he said breathlessly aloud. “I…I am the chaos. It is in me. Disorder and randomness flow from my hands. I’ve always blamed failure on anything else, but all the time, it’s been me. I am the grit in the machine,” he said, louder. “I am the cat hair floating in the potion, the earwig in the trousers of destiny that pinches your inner thigh while you're pouring coffee, the pancake, syrup side down, that lands on your important parchment that just that minute after you sneezed off the table and onto the floor. I am the ruiner of diplomacy, the destroyer of agendas, the foiler of plots. I am chaos. Chaos!” Buckling on his last piece of mismatched gear, an eldritch energy began to crackle purpley about his still-singed skin, and a smell of ozone wafted from him. And burned hair.

“CHAOS!” he screamed, sprinting now for the stairs to the deck. “Ye Gods, Hear My Call,” he called, once under the stars. “Xeno calls You! What fools these mortals be, their machinations, their puny plans, their ideas of greatness, all no more than mayflies. Come, let us pour down upon them a great Disturbance, an unbalancing of that they have the nerve to call “life.” Ha! I am Xeno, and I have seen Beyond, and all there, is Chaos! Come, brothers; come, Dave; come, those who Listen, Above and Below, I call again upon Thee! I seek a righting of the scales, and then an explosion of the scales that couldn't possibly just have happened, because what part of a scale could conceivably explode? A third time now I Call, heed Thou my cry! I am Thy vessel, Thy vassal, Thy agent, Thy horse Thou may ride. Schemes shall be unmade, and those with the pride to make them shall be broken!"

"There is no justice. There is no vengeance. There are no great or small. There is naught, but Chaos, and I am he! It! Whatever! Aieee!

Saladin woke the whimpering gnome. He was covered in a sweat that reeked of mostly apples.

"We've just entered the atmosphere of the Lizardmen's planet. Xoe's taken a couple of the others down on the Tradesman to check it out. We're hovering about 500 feet above them with all lights out. She said to tell you that if something goes wrong, she'll send up a signal and that you'd know what to do."

As Saladin left him alone in his cabin, Xeno looked around, somewhat groggily. He was wearing what appeared to be a loincloth made from some sort of purplish pinstriped material. His pointy hat lay on the floor, Dave leaning on it while emitting a dull red glow. As Xeno stood up the room spun; it was apparent he hadn't eaten in days.

Suddenly, he heard a cry from the deck above. "Xeno! Get up here! It looks like something's about to happen!'

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