Theme: The Game
The sandy haired man stared at his opponent across the table. He could make out his opponents thin lips, elongated lower jaw, and sparkling green eyes beneath his ornate metal hood. Silently, he lifted the ornate, translucent pawn of pure glass and slid it forward one space.
“Your move,” he said quietly to his opponent. But his opponent’s inhuman eyes, slitted like those of a cat, simply stared back at him silently, then once again at the board before him, where his own opaque silver pieces skirmished with their translucent enemies.
To any watcher who did not know the truth, this would seem merely like a game of chess, albeit played on a gameboard far larger than normal and with oddly
shaped pieces. But all of the hundreds of beings who watched with bated breath as the two chessmasters made their moves knew what was truly at stake.
Ataran was wagering against the sand-haired human, Gonan, for the future of the world itself.
Each time a pawn was lifted, a being in the mortal world moved. Each time a piece was taken, a mortal being died at the hands of a follower of the enemy. The rules of this particular brand of chess had taken Gonan years to learn, and even now he still did not consider himself a master.
Ataran, however, was an immortal deity. He’d had thousands of centuries from before the time before time to practice and hone his skill. Even now, Gonan thought, it seemed that Ataran was toying with him, trying to keep him off-balance on the fronts of the game he was winning while simultaneously controlling and toying with the sectors of the board he controlled.
What was still worse was that Ataran knew that Gonan was loath to sacrifice even a single pawn. He knew that each of them represented the life of a mortal being. As he watched, Ataran slid a pawn silently toward the rook, not caring that he had sentenced a human follower to death.
Ataran simply stared at Gonan through his expressionless jade eyes, wiling him to make a move. He could withdraw his rook from the game’s center, leaving one of his two bishops open for capture by one of Ataran’s rooks. While he still had both bishops, he’d lost both knights and a rook. Ataran still had all of his royal pieces except one bishop. Gonan’s king was shielded only by his bishop, it wouldn’t take much more for Ataran to break through the last of his defenses and seize victory.
Silently, Gonan withdrew the rook out of reach of Ataran’s pawn.
If Ataran won he'd would be free to make good on his promises to enslave the human race for eternity, rendering them mindless creatures once more.
But Gonan could see an opening as well. He still had his queen, as did Ataran. A dangerous, risky strategy took form. His queen could move and take Ataran’s bishop. Ataran would be forced to move his queen back to take Gonan’s queen, and his rook on the middle row could checkmate Ataran’s king, which was blocked from moving any direction but forward.
He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t pass judgment on so many humans. Not when he didn’t even know if Ataran would take the bait. If Ataran took it, then he, Gonan, had defeated the immortal deity. But if Ataran did not take the bait and continued to press his attack, it would be over for him within minutes.
Ataran’s eyes stared at Gonan coldly, daring him to make a move.
And Gonan made his choice.
Word Count: 599