Kor’Thank: Chapter 67

Peter was assaulted by a bright, luminous wash.  Whether it was sound or light he couldn’t tell; as soon as he tried to focus on the imagery, his mind filled with a thought-melting hum.  And when he focused on the music, his vision erupted with nameless colors, beautiful swirls of unending fractals.  A buried part of him whispered it was both—music and light, coming together in a synesthetic storm of wordless epiphany.

[What the…]  He trailed off without intending to; he was overcome by wonder.

Dissona, however, was the exact opposite.  [NO!] she spat.  [YOU MEDDLING PIECE OF SHIT!  HE’S MINE, YOU HEAR ME?  MINE!!!]

A dry, authoritative voice rang through the aether.  [You know the Law—you must let him decide.]

[AND SO SHOULD YOU!] the Pain Lord shouted.  [YOU’RE BOUND BY YOUR OWN PACT, CUNT!  DON’T YOU DARE TRY AND HELP HIM!]

The presence projected a sad smile.  [I never do, yet you always forget.  I’ve given you the same choice countless times over.]

Dissona lost her composure.  All throughout the dark expanse, symbols of cruelty blinked into and out of existence, materializing just long enough to attack the dancing locus of music made light (or light made music).  It didn’t seem to mind; it would simply break apart into new configurations and reform into its original shape:  an insubstantial mass of amorphous sparkle.

Peter suddenly realized what it was.  Or who it was, to be precise.

[Atriya!] he blurted.  [Good to see you, man!  You deus ex machina motherfucker, you!]

Atriya projected a smile.  [And you as well.]

[You here to help?]

Dissona shrieked again, filling the aether with her horrendous screech.  Her attacks became extra frenzied.

Atriya projected a shake of his head.  [I’m here to remind you of what you already know, Peter.]

Peter wrinkled his astral brow.  [Remind me of what I already know?  Dude, I don’t need platitudes, I need help, goddammit!]

[I told you when we last met:  you have everything you need.]

[What the fuck kind of God in the Machine are you?] Peter raged.  [You’re supposed to show up and save the day, motherfucker!]

[Not how it works.]  Atriya projected a smile.  [All I’m supposed to do—all I can do—is give you the same reminder I’ve given to everyone before you.  Most people fail to heed it, but you don’t have to follow them.  You can change things, Peter.]

In the background, Dissona roared and redoubled her efforts.

[Wait.]  A flash of panic raced through Peter’s mind.  [Eun said that Dee’s devoured countless worlds, slain countless heroes.  What makes me better than any of them?]

[You’re asking the wrong question.  Believe in yourself—your belief is a weapon.]  Atriya’s presence began to fade, slowly but steadily.

[Wait!] Peter protested.  [But…but…]

[Your belief is a weapon.] the Paladin repeated.  [Use it.]

And then he was gone.

[HA!] Dissona roared.  She turned her full attention on to Peter’s psyche.  [READY TO BE EATEN, SPECK?]

Peter wasn’t listening; his panic turned to resignation—fuck, at least we tried—to curiosity:  what had Atriya meant when he’d said that Peter was asking the wrong question?

Your belief is a weapon.

[I’LL GIVE YOU TEN SECONDS TO SAVOR YOUR LAST FEW MOMENTS OF PAIN-FREE EXISTENCE.  AHAHAHAHA!!!]

Peter shut his perception (the equivalent of closing his eyes), as Dissona began counting.

[TEN.  NINE.  EIGHT…]

You’re asking the wrong question, Peter.

[SEVEN.  SIX.  FIVE…]

Your belief is a weapon.

Suddenly, Peter’s eyes shot open.

[FOUR.  THREE…]

What makes me any better than them?

He realized there was no better.  His worth was an ideological construct created by society.  He’d fought against it for so long, but now he realized he’d never needed to.  It would fade away in the river of time, just like Dissona would.  Her unstoppable power was simply another illusion.

What makes me any better than them?

You’re asking the wrong question, Peter.

His mind felt light, as if a great weight had fallen away from it.  His parents, Atherton’s laughably petty hierarchy, hell—the entire socioeconomic conundrum of the world at large.  Eun had known it all along, she’d tried to tell him, but he’d been too wrapped up in his own drama.

Your belief is a weapon.

[NO.] 

Peter felt Dissona retracting in horror.  Due to the hungry press of her psyche, he was made privy to her thoughts and intentions.  This tiny upstart fleshling teenager had realized the key to defeating her.  True, he wasn’t any better than those she’d shredded and devoured, but…

He was also no worse than those who’d defeated her.

Peter brought his fists together, and his thought-form blazed like an exploding star.  Flashes and gleams ran across his imaginal contours.

[NO!]

Your belief is a weapon.

He spread his legs wide and drew his fists apart, channeling his conviction and belief into the space between them.  He poured everything into it:  his faith in his friends, his devotion to Bitefighter, laughter, peace…Reptar, Eun, Kora…

And yes—he could finally admit it:  his love for Holly.

[NOOOOO!!!]

Glittering steal materialized between his hands and he drew it back, brandishing the sword high overhead.  Astral radiance danced off its flat, lighting the gloomy murk with piercing light.  His eyes lit with twin sparkles and he flexed his will, causing clarion music to trumpet through the eternal reaches, lifting hearts and elating souls.  It was the theme to Voltron, Peter’s favorite show of all time.

And, of course, it was the eighties version.  The new stuff was good, but you couldn’t fuck with the classics.

Yeah, Peter thought, smiling as widely as if he’d simultaneously mainlined a heroic dose of DMT and had the best orgasm of his goddamn life, courtesy of the hottest Instagram models of all fucking time.

Old school, bitch.

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