As Peter plunged into Dissona’s center, he was surrounded by black, inky void.
After a second, he realized that void wasn’t the right word for it—void implied stillness, void implied peace. This was different. He was surrounded by a deep sense of palpable disquiet; a pervasive unease that wasn’t just everywhere, it was every thing.
[TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE.] Dissona’s amplified voice thundered through his mind. [IN ANOTHER NANOSECOND, MY ASCENDANCE WILL BE COMPLETE. THIS IS MY LAST GIFT TO YOU—I’VE SLOWED YOUR PERCEPTION SO I CAN ALLOW YOU TO FULLY APPRECIATE YOUR FAILURE TO STOP ME. YOUR TIME IS UP, FLESHLING.]
Peter’s astral heart dropped in his chest. Fuck. Earth…existence…it’s fucking over. His head drooped down to his chest.
There’s nothing I can do.
[THAT’S RIGHT, PETER.] The Pain Lord’s voice was rife with amusement; it oozed from her psyche in a serpentine slither. [ALL THAT TIME, ALL THAT EFFORT…ALL FOR NAUGHT.] Her words were followed by sick laughter. [BET YOU WISH YOU’D SIGNED ON WITH ME—YOU COULD HAVE ENJOYED YOUR LAST FEW MONTHS ON THAT SHITTY MUDBALL YOU CALL A HOME.]
Would it have been better if he’d served as her minion? Would he have been more fulfilled, knowing that existence was going to end, resigning himself to its inevitable demise? He could have just relaxed, or lost himself in a lazy wash of soul-killing pleasure.
He could have…he could have…
No. His eyes steeled over and a deep, timeless part of him came to the fore. No, that would have been worse than being tortured and killed, and you know it. You fucking know it.
Peter didn’t know it (not at a conscious level, anyway), but he’d just passed an eons-old test. Even as he faced the bitter end, even with no cause or justification, he still hewed to what he knew to be true. It didn’t matter whether the world was about to be eaten, he couldn’t have given a finger-blasting fuck.
He was gonna stick to his goddamn guns.
[Fuck you.] he projected into the unending dark. [I’ve watched ‘Return of the Jedi’ a billion times. So believe me when I say that I’ll never join you. Not even now.]
And just to himself, he thought, Thank you, George Lucas.
Amazingly enough, he could sense that his words had vexed Dissona. She wasn’t pissed; it was more along the lines of someone being unexpectedly meh when presented with a supposedly awesome opportunity.
[WELL.] she emoted gruffly. [KUDOS, PETER—COUNTLESS OTHERS HAVE GONE THE OTHER WAY. I’M NOT SURE IF YOU’RE BRAVE OR JUST PLAIN FUCKING STUPID.]
[Same thing, as far as I’m concerned.] He would have shut his eyes, but he had none to shut in this murky, lightless void. [Go ahead.] he projected. [Do your worst.]
Dissona’s mind-shredding laughter swirled and rose. [I ALWAYS DO.]
Peter reached out with his soon-to-be-eaten psyche. [Eun. Kora. Don’t know if you can still hear me, but I couldn’t stop her. I’d offer an apology, but I know that neither of you would accept it. I had the time of my life with you two, and I just wanted to let you know it before—]
Dazzling light poured through the dark.