Kor’Thank: Chapter 67

Peter was assaulted by a bright, luminous wash.  Whether it was sound or light he couldn’t tell.  When he focused on the imagery, his mind filled with a thought-melting hum.  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 wordless epiphany.

[What the…]  He trailed off, overcome by wonder.

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

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

[FOLLOW YOUR OWN DICTATE!] the Pain Lord shouted.  [YOU’RE BOUND BY DESIGN, CUNT—DON’T YOU DARE TRY AND HELP!]

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

Across Dissona’s soul-stealing darkness, symbols of cruelty blinked into existence, materializing just long enough to attack the dancing locus of music made light (or light made music).  It didn’t seem to mind; with each strike, it broke apart into new configurations and reformed into its original shape:  a shifting mass of amorphous sparkle.  Peter suddenly realized what it was.  Or who it was, to be exact.

[Atriya!] he blurted.  [Good to see you, man!]

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

[You gonna bail me out?]

Dissona shrieked again, filling the aether with a horrendous screech.

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

[What?  I need help, goddammit!  Not platitudes!]

[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 this works.]  Another smile.  [All I’m supposed to do—all I can do—is give you the same reminder I’ve given to everyone else.  Most people refuse to listen, but you can rise above that, if you so choose.  You can change things, Peter.]

In the background, Dissona roared and redoubled her efforts.

[Wait.]  A flash of panic.  [Dee’s devoured countless worlds, slain countless heroes.  How am I better than any of them?]

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

[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 attention back on to Peter.  [READY TO BE EATEN, SPECK?]

His panic turned to resignation—fuck, at least we tried—and then to curiosity.  What had Atriya meant by “asking the wrong question?”

Your belief is a weapon.

[SAVOR THESE MOMENTS OF PAIN-FREE EXISTENCE!  AHAHAHAHA!!!]

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

[TEN.  NINE.  EIGHT…]

You’re asking the wrong question.

[SEVEN.  SIX.  FIVE…]

Your belief is a weapon.

His eyes shot open.

[FOUR.  THREE…]

How am I better than any of them?

Peter experienced a full-being realization:  he was no better.  Worth was a construct born from by society.  He’d fought against it so hard and for so long…but now he saw he’d never had to.  It would fade away in the river of time, just like Dissona.  Her unstoppable power was just an illusion.

How am I better than any of them?

His mind felt light, as if a great weight had fallen away.  The unexplored trauma of his dead parents, Atherton’s laughably petty teenage hierarchy, hell—the entire predicament 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 weighty press of her malevolent psyche, he was made privy to her thoughts and intentions.  This tiny fleshling had figured out the key to her defeat.  True, he was no better than the unfortunate heroes she’d shredded and devoured, but…

But he was no worse than those who’d beaten her.

Peter mated his fists—he pressed the curls of his forefingers and thumbs together—in front of his chest.  His thought-form blazed like an exploding star.  Flashes and gleams ran across his contours.

[NO!]

Your belief is a weapon.

He spread his legs and drew apart his fists, 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!!!]

A glittering sword appeared in his hands.  He drew it back, brandishing the steel high overhead.  Astral radiance danced off its flat, lighting the murk with piercing shine.  He flexed his will, and his eyes lit with twin sparkles.  Clarion music rang and boomed, 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 OG classics.)

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

Old school, bitch.