Team logo. What do you think? Huh? Huh?
I drifted across the sky at an easy pace. Now that I knew where I was going, getting there would be effortless, and there was no hurry. At last it came into view.
Two peaks rose high above it on either side. It was actually suspended between the two mountains, somehow engineered so that the orological rivers would run through the compound and dispense at its center in a rushing torrent, plunging for Kio into the canyon below. On impact it cast up a spray of mist that rose to veil the structure, rendering it all the more difficult to locate. It afforded the privacy the original tenants, the Great Beings, wanted; now it provided the same for its new tenants. It was a tectonic marvel strung up between natural wonders, but I wasn't here to sightsee.
Gaining entrance was easy. The breach in security that is the ventilation shaft is always ignored. Map in mind, I could have found the room I wanted in my sleep. This prison cell was occupied by a single stasis tube. I landed before it and swept a hand across the surface, admiring the indistinguishable mass within. After so long, the day I had been awaiting was imminent. And it all depended on nothing more than freeing this prisoner.
It wasn't the first time I had done it. Methods of imprisonment may vary, but a cage is always designed to keep what is inside it on the inside. All one ever has to do is get what is on the inside and bring it to the outside.
I opened the tube and stepped back out of the way before its contents could spill out on me. The substance oozed out onto the floor to collect in a pool. There was a slight ripple in its surface, and a voice echoed through the chamber, deep and resonant.
"What has happened?"
"You've been awakened." "They captured you bottled you up here, where you've been for the past few hendred millennia. But now I've freed you."
A form rose out of the puddle, a hulking mass that loomed over me. "And . . . why is that?"
I lifted my chin into his shapeless face. "You and I have a little business to discuss."
"What might that be?"
"Times have changed. This world is nothing like the one we knew."
"Times do not change. One world is like another. Only the people change."
I shrugged. "Then the people have changed. You've been sleeping, I've been hiding, and they've been forgetting. You and I have faded into myth, along with all the characters of the historical chronicles."
"What concern is that of mine?"
"You and I are in the same boat. We no longer exist. It is long overdue that we slip back into existence, raise a little Karzahni, and bring a few ghost stories to life."
"I exist. I am here, as you can see, before you. Why should I care whether the people of this world believe in me or not?"
"You are in a prison cell."
"Not for long."
"And you have me to thank for that."
"The world should know you and recognize you for what you are. All should bow at my feet. They should be inspired with fear at the mere hint of your name. They owe us a great debt, and you and I are to collect it."
There was no appreciation for my embellishments in the figure's tone when he responded, "What are you suggesting?"
I grinned, savoring the next word on my tongue. "Vengeance." I smacked my lips. "Such a luscious word. The infliction of punishment in return for a misjustice. A wrong for a wrong. The moment to take back what was once so rightfully"--I hesitated--"ours has come."
A pause. "I am . . . listening."
And I knew that was his oath of allegiance. As a matter of course, I answered his question. There was no urgency in our situation, not the slightest reason to be hasty, so I told him everything.
When I had finished, the chamber hung in silence. The silver figure before me nodded its head slowly, then rumbled, "Yes . . . yes. You will have my cooperation."
He put forth a hand. I ignored the gesture and added, "If the universe is to fear our names, of course, I will need to know yours."
The hand withdrew. "I have no name."
"Just satisfy my curiosity."
A pause. Then, "I am nothing. I am everything. I am destruction, I am death, I am destiny. I do not need a name."
"Very well. You may be as you wish."
Then there came an ear-splitting wailing, much later than I had expected. For a prison the security was surprisingly remiss.
"Why don't we properly thank your hosts, Nothing? After all, you have been living under their roof for a long, long, long time."
Humor was above his head, but I didn't care. I just rocked on my heels, waiting. The alarm continued its shrill call. Soon footsteps thumped in the corridor outside. When the thick door swung open and the Glatorian entered, my new companion swept toward them. Two lunged at me. I separated my body and the first stumbled between my particles. I swarmed over the other in a cloud. I left him no more than a heap of scrap armor and set upon the first. I felt his flesh disintegrate under the gnawing of every particle of my body, until every scrap had been consumed.
When the guards had been reduced to scattered remnants, the prisoner and I ambled out into the hall amidst the blaring siren, side by side, as if old friends. He regarded me with a new curiosity, as a Makuta regards one of their creations that has acted out of turn.
"Who are you?" the former captive inquired.
"Unlike you, I earned a name in the old universe. Most knew it, all feared it, few dared speak it. Now the time has come for the universe to learn that name again. Let it be known: I am Zaktan."
Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith