Author: AlexiVoid

Ghostwriting; Brought to you Live from the Crazy Imagination of Yours Truly.

[02]

“… Speaking of ‘Broken Hearts’…” Hyde’s sudden words, spoken with the clarity and tact of a bullet straight to the face, had pretty damned well near given Faustus a conniption. Unbeknownst to Hyde, it had been the tinkling sound of piano, exactly as Basha had heard, that had returned the Elder Half-Human to semi-consciousness a few short days earlier. Free of their Prince’s emotionally crippling visions following the Ezramatheia’s untimely demise however, Faustus had almost immediately recognized the tune as centuries old, Earth Music.

“My grandmother collected antiques. She gave me this music box as a present when I decided to leave home.” Shortly before the Mad Maestro’s impromptu and over-dramatic arrival on board their ship, a much younger and still entirely lucid Eremis had once attempted to explain to him, “Even on a bad… All I have to do is open the cover and it warms my heart right up… So I always have it somewhere close by.”

“Anything that helps you with the pain, I suppose.” Unfamiliar with each other and what they would eventually become, an oblivious Faustus had more or less shrugged her off; unaware of the impact his words were having on her. Distraught by his answer, Eremis had raised her perfectly normal, hazel eyes towards him, pursing her lips as her eyebrows had slowly furrowed downwards over her nose. Right there, she had stood, in complete and utter silence, staring at his blank face until, overwhelmed and confused, she had pointed his out of her bedroom door with one of her small, porcelain-like index finger and, “I think you should go now.” She had ordered him, so quietly he had barely even heard her speak.

Now, ever since Mercy had helped bring him from near-death all the way back to their present timeline, Faustus had been unable to find the music’s source or figure out how to make it stop. The ceaseless, lyric-less tune had haunted him from the small town most of the survivors had found themselves in, all the way up and around the narrow and treacherous mountain path to Hyde’s rather cleverly hidden sub-cellar. And even then… Instead of addressing what he still hadn’t truly believed was a problem, he’d chosen to swallow his emotions and bite his tongue. He had allowed himself the distraction of watching his apprentice, in all of her fury induced glory, hammering away at Basha’s modulator with the handle of her jagged hunting knife. If only for the brief moment it had lasted, seeing his pupil unleashing her anger upon their unsuspecting Prince had made him feel… ‘Better’… about both himself and his own, steadily mounting frustrations.

Luckily for him, the petite, dark-haired, self-mutilating cyborg, reminding Faustus a little too much of himself, had been far too angry and distracted with Basha to notice how tired and also distracted her superior still was… So she had never attempted to point out how his usually fast and expert hands, beginning to grow cold and numb from inexplicable blood loss, were becoming increasingly slow and clumsy with his own surgical tools. As impressed as he’d been incensed at her rather alarming display of sheer ignorance, Faustus had once again chosen not to explain himself. This time, he had done what any other ‘Good Doctor’ and ‘Proper Professional’ would’ve done; he had rewarded her silence with military grade painkillers and infinitely more muscle relaxants than either she, or Basha, should have ever needed.

So of course, no sooner had she pocketed her present had Hyde decided to go ahead and slam him with her viciously specific questions anyway, “Who do you think got upgraded first? Basha… Or Eremis?”

It had very nearly been the fucking death of him all over again. One tiny word and the soft piano music he was still hearing had exploded into an infernal cacophony of screeching, ear-shredding violins and guitars accompanied by crashing cymbals and the violent beating of drums. The ensuing flashback had been more than enough to send his pounding heart racing up his throat in a desperately painful and futile attempt at reaching his lips.

At least, thanks to Hyde’s help, he was able to remember when and where he had heard that particular piece of classical music last.

“Neither actually… But since we’re not going to discuss that here, we’ll stick with Eremis.” Already preoccupied and now even further distracted by his tingling, purple extremities, Faustus had uttered the words faster than his mind had fully processed them. Having never given Hyde a ‘Pass’, Faustus had yet to introduce her to the Mad Maestro’s Twisted Court or indoctrinate her into their presently shattered hive-mind. He was fully aware she was unable to hear any of the tortured music being haphazardly played across their collective background. Her simple mind was simply asking questions out of not so simple curiosity.

As such, with his already dwindling patience being drowned out by the increasing racket, Faustus had decided to terminate the conversation; he’d just as simply turned around and left the room.

“WAY TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, FAUSTUS!!” Hyde had shouted back at him as a welcome, still none the wiser to his situation.

“I did answer your question. It just wasn’t what you wanted to hear.” Faustus had managed to keep his voice flat, quickening his step in an attempt to mask how heavy and sluggish he truly felt.

“Who was the first to get upgraded if it wasn’t Basha or Eremis?” As persistent as she was stubborn, Hyde clearly had no idea of the effect her words were having on her perpetually emotionless boss as once more she’d asked about Eremis… And once more, Faustus’ thoughts had been yanked back and sent spiraling down what felt like his own personal hell-hole.

“That’s not what you asked.” While at first Faustus had found himself somewhat suspecting the quiet, piano-like music had been re-introduced at the back of his thoughts by the Mad Maestro, Hyde’s questions were making him realize it couldn’t possibly have been HIM who had all but obliterated his own, carefully crafted hive-mind. Neither had he unapologetically left his own courts in ragged tatters while the Ezramatheia itself had unexpectedly exploded into a ball of flames and buried itself in broken pieces amongst the nearby mountains.

So, ripping a page straight from his students’ book, Faustus had dropped a personal question of his own on her head, hoping he would throw her on a loop just long enough to bridge the gap between himself and the sturdy, wooden doors ahead. They’d both been equally amazed at how well they kept holding up against the sandstorm still raging on the other side.

It had worked a little too well. The more Hyde had talked, the more it had begun to dawn on him… It hadn’t been the Maestro who had eaten Eremis alive after her attempt at joining death… But with his silver tongue acting as both a blessing and a curse, he’d still needed to hear himself say it before, to his growing horror, he had finally understood exactly what was happening to both himself and the Maestro’s missing vanguard… His highness’ own, personally dead knights in currently cracked and absolutely useless fucking armor.

“Yes, well, let’s say Eremis never got the option. He simply went crazy and used her as a guinea pig, rationalizing she had no will to live anyway so it didn’t matter.” Of course, Eremis had already been long gone by the time Faustus had heard all his flimsy fucking excuses.

“Who’s ‘he’? You mean Big Brother?” Hyde, as rattled and confused as Eremis had been on that fateful day she’d tried playing her music for him, had kept attempting to pry… But with his god-awful predicament growing worse and his time being cut abysmally short, Faustus’ face had turned to stone, and he’d rather awkwardly fished out his keys from his pockets, thanking all the suns and stars in the infinite universe Hyde still wasn’t noticing his icy blue hands.

Finally outside, his entire chest feeling like it was filling up with lead-laced cement while his arms and legs turned to rust, Faustus had to force himself to keep moving down the mountain, never having guessed that the trip back would be so much worse than his journey upwards. Taking what felt like eons to break through the endless, screeching sandstorm, he kept heading towards the nearest town until, no longer able to stand up, he stumbled off the path and found himself a comfortable enough spot on the ground to sit on before his knees gave out completely. Leaning his back up against the rigid trunk of a tree for support, he filled up his lungs with all the newly found fresh air he could fit in his collapsing lungs and exhaled slowly, already feeling himself returning to his regular senses while, at the back of his head, as if anticipating his movements, the music suddenly cut out.

As always, he knew it was only behind closed eyelids where he would be able to find it and behind closed eyelids he did. The Maestro’s hive-mind. Not for the faint of heart or head even in optimal conditions and now even Faustus could barely tell that’s what it was, never mind figure out where he actually stood. Cracked walls, covered in peeling, colorless paint made for an incredibly eerie decor while endlessly looping hallways, lined with broken and fading light bulbs and blanketed in thick, black, acrid-smelling smoke made it nearly impossible to see anything past two feet… And pretty damn well near as difficult to breathe.

Not that there was anything left back here for anyone to see. Faustus already knew the sulphur-smelling smog blocking most of his view was hiding row upon row of locked doors… Just as well as he knew no one but the Maestro could open any of them without the proper keys. Even Faustus and Mercy, the Maestro’s left and right hands respectively, were being denied access to entry, making the music being played that much more perplexing. Absolutely not a single fucking thing should have been able to make it through all that literal mind fog. Unless… Of course… As Hyde had so brutally reminded him not even a few moments ago…

“I know you’re still down here Mordred!! Stop hiding and show yourself!!”

Hopelessly wishful thinking at it’s finest; Faustus was able to witness firsthand his words reaching the fog wall, barely causing a ripple there before sinking down to the floor and evaporating. It was only when he’d dropped his gaze down after his sentence that he spotted it… The elusive answer to the question he’d never asked… Right there under his combat boots.

They were wires.

Multitudes of multi-colored wires, snaking across the checkered and broken tiles strewn across the floor. They slithered under the closed doorways, climbed the walls, wrapped themselves around the light fixtures and covered the ceiling, hissing and spewing out sparks almost as loudly as the cracks of a well-crafted whip being handled by a seasoned expert.

Faustus, far from happy at the sight, sighed and shook his head. The first to become ‘upgraded’ as Hyde had so preciously called it… The very first to bow down to the Maestro and join his ranks… Their long-suffering Mordred had essentially handed their Master the Ezramatheia on a silver platter. He’d then lost what little sanity he’d had left to the hive-mind… Long before Faustus had appeared, rightly deposed of him and taken over his position. Now, still recovering from the crash, it seemed Mordred was making it clear that not only was he still alive as well somewhere, he was also attempting to regain some control over his ‘Pet’.

“Everyone knows Eremis tried to kill herself anyway. They should be happy now. I made her useful.” Had been his actual words to Faustus back then.

“You can’t just go around doing that to people without their consent, Mordred, it’s unethical. Not to mention sadistic and fucking insane.”

“Are you sure? Because I’m pretty sure I did.” Mordred’s laugh had sounded closer to cackling. “Did you even take a look at her? She’s absolutely beautiful now and I promise, she’s NEVER going to break again.”

With too many pointless words now floating around the words he’d already spent years trying to forget, Faustus had enough sense to crouch down and take a closer look at the wires. He took a note of the direction they seemed to be coming from, took in another deep breath and once again opened his eyes to real life. Feeling more like himself, he slowly stretched himself out as he cleared out all the voices from his thoughts, his heart beating almost normally as the pain and heaviness he’d been feeling in his arms and legs slowly disappeared.

“Thanks for the Love Note, Mordred.” Faustus breathed to himself as he stood himself up on his own two feet. “I can promise you too… We’ll all see each other again very, very soon.”

(Found You)

{My Pet}

[01]

“Leaving me already boss?” Hyde asked as she sat on the floor, keeping her eyes away from Faustus as he stood nearby, hastily putting his things back in his satchel.

“Were you honestly thinking I would stay?” The painful sting that came with his biting remark made Hyde snicker, the sound coming out like static through her gas mask as she busied herself peeling the wraps still glued to her skin.

“Can you blame me for hoping you would? You know how much I love babysitting… Especially when the kids are actually awake.” Hyde squinted, wondering if Faustus could tell how utterly unenthusiastic she truly was. Rather unexpectedly, he stopped what he was doing to give her a look over, setting aside a small bottle filled with green pills and half a dozen filled syringes.

“These should be enough to hold you both over until you make it back to civilization providing you don’t kill each other before you get there first.” He said as Hyde rolled her eyes, pulling herself backwards up on the mattress and pushing herself to her feet. She took three steps forward and made everything he’d set out on the table disappear, listening as he kept talking. “I’ll be in town with some acquaintances for a few days and then I’ll be returning to the bridge to file paperwork.”

Hyde couldn’t help but be amused. Faustus’ deadpan tone of voice made even her and her gas mask modifications sound perfectly normal. “So, to translate, you’re going to the Hell Mouth to meet up with your imaginary girlfriend then NOT reporting it back to Our Dearly Beloved Big Brother?” Her sarcasm was only matched by her bitterness and accentuated by the literal metal laced into her voice. “Can I keep the modulator since you’re fucking off to get laid? I might as well keep Basha’s heart since I basically broke it.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend Hyde; I’m visiting some old friends.” Faustus was glaring daggers as he took the dead reactor out of the box he’d put it in and handed it over to her anyway. “And The Maestro already took care of Basha’s heart when he ripped it out of his chest and swallowed it.”

“Hence the replacements shittier than your ability to lie.” Hyde shot back as she slunk back to her spot against the metal bed frame, shivering from what she tried to tell herself was the cold. “Speaking of broken hearts, who do you think got upgraded first? Basha or Eremis?”

“Neither, actually, but since we’re not going to discuss that here, we’ll stick with Eremis.” Hyde’s eyes grew wide at his answer but the look on her face was quickly replaced with mild consternation.

“Didn’t Basha get his modulator first and then convert Eremis because she tried to kill herself?” Faustus was right; Eremis wasn’t the kind of topic that came up in the conversation very often and Hyde knew he’d drop it faster than he’d dropped his surgical gloves and thrown his trench coat back on. Presently, he’d finished tying up his bag and was strapping it around his neck, looking deathly fucking grim while he pulled his zipper back up to his nose.

“If you’ll follow me upstairs, I’ll give you the keys the locks I used on the doors. I doubt anyone followed me here but you really never know.” Came his predictable evasive reply. Avoiding the topic entirely, he then turned around and headed back up the rusty staircase, not giving his apprentice the opportunity to protest.

“WAY TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, FAUSTUS!!” She yelled up at him instead, finding new and much better curse words to mutter under her breath as she shoved the modulator into one of her side pockets and chased after him.

“I did answer your question, it just wasn’t what you wanted to hear.” Faustus pointed out flatly once she’d caught up to him.

“Who was the first to get upgraded if it wasn’t Basha or Eremis?” She tried again.

“That’s not what you asked.” Faustus sighed as they headed towards the exit. “Remember when we started working together, I had you explain to me how you self-mutilate for practice?”

The sudden and unexpected question rattled Hyde harder than the howling winds outside made the wooden doors rattle on their hinges. She flinched, her whole body twitching as she clenched and unclenched her fists, waiting a moment before she spoke. “Because I’m a curious intellectual who chose to install some of her own modifications out of boredom, NOT because I have an actual fucking problem.” She attempted to reiterate. Faustus shot her a sideways glance, lowering his gaze until his eyes settled on her bandage-covered fingers until, flustered and increasingly annoyed, Hyde snapped. “Alright, fine… SOMETIMES I do it on purpose… But I’m still not suicidal. If I was going to kill myself, I would’ve done it already.” She pointed to the gas mask Faustus himself had given her as the ongoing proof she wasn’t lying about it.

“Yes, well, let’s say Eremis never got the option. HE simply went crazy and used her as a guinea pig… Rationalizing she had no will to live anyway so it didn’t matter.” Faustus stopped himself a few feet away from the door, hesitating at the thought of the storm but resigning himself to it nonetheless.

“Who’s HE? You mean Big Brother?” Hyde kept asking but Faustus’ face turned to stone as he fished out his key rings and pulled off the proper keys.

“Please do me the honors.” Were all the words he offered as his eyes narrowed down to slits and his voice dropped in tone, leaving no room for discussion or any further questions.

“Sure thing, boss.” Hyde bowed her head, bit her tongue and refrained from saying anything else as Faustus took off his glasses and tucked them back up his sleeve. He then ducked through the open doors, graciously helping her hold them closed until she’d managed to lock them up again behind him.

“…Jeez…Us…” She breathed once she was positive he wasn’t coming back. She reached into her pocket for Basha’s broken modulator, coiling her fingers around it as she tried to calm her racing heart. “Good thing shit happens.”

She pulled it out and examined it, finding the sharp tip of her tweezers and using them to remove the tiny bolts holding the warped, titanium plates together. She wasn’t entirely sure what she thought she was doing or why she’d wanted to keep the broken reactor. She didn’t even really know what she was looking for until she found it, neatly wrapped in multicolored wires and further protected by a second shell mostly consisting of freshly melted plastic.

“Well aren’t you an actual fucking gem…” She muttered to herself gleefully as she yanked the plastic case out with her fingers, shoving the modulator back into her pocket. She decided to use her teeth to peel back its flimsy corners until she was able to reach the ball of wires with her tweezers. She then began yanking them all out one by one, discarding them on the floor like hairs as she slowly made her way back down to the sub-basement, careful not to trip over the misshapen stairs. Once she had finally pulled it free, she shook it out into the palm of her hand, throwing the plastic case somewhere in a far corner where no one would miss it.

“Look at this princess. I bet you’ll never guess what your second favorite lady got her twisted little fingers on.” Hyde announced to the still unconscious Basha as she waltzed back into their makeshift operating room. She climbed back on top of him, finding her favorite spot under his belt while she sneered at him. “Nevermind what Faustus said about Big Brother eating your heart… This right here could almost pass for a wedding ring.”

Hyde examined the highly polished silver disc under the dim lights. Nearly forgetting Faustus had untied Basha’s hands while citing blood loss and irreparable nerve damage, Hyde did the unthinkable; reaching up behind her head and under her hair, she undid the clasps that held the top half of her mask firmly attached to her face, digging her fingers into her cheekbones and forcing it down its invisible hinges to her chest. The gush of air felt cold and refreshing on her bare skin as she exposed what should have been her mouth and lower jaw… IF she’d still had a mouth and a lower jaw to expose.

Even after all this time and everything that happened, Hyde couldn’t make herself care enough to look at her own, very real reflection in any kind of mirror. She didn’t need to. She already knew exactly what the fuck she looked like… Just like she already knew she couldn’t speak with her mask pulled down. Still, she managed to let out a nearly sadistic laugh as she placed the miniature disc over her open gullet and, just like Big Brother before her, swallowed it whole.

Although she felt it make its way down what remained of her throat, Hyde still didn’t get much time to dwell on the Maestro or what little remained of their collective humanity. As fast as it reached what no longer served as her stomach and with absolutely no warning whatsoever, a massive ball of electricity came surging out of her midsection, racing up her spine and screeching out of her ears louder and sharper than the feedback from a mishandled microphone. Unable to scream in pain or make it stop, Hyde slammed her hands up against her ears in a futile attempt at what felt like a nuke trying to force its way out of her petite frame. Then, if only to complete the absolute fucking insanity, her vision blurred, turning to static before it was almost immediately replaced with the sentence;

“ERROR://VIDEO FILE CORRUPTED.”

In a panic, she dug her nails into Basha’s stomach hard enough to make him bleed as she forced her neural systems into a hard reset. Regaining her normal vision, she was then able to adjust the cacophony of white noise still screaming at the back of her head until the audio cleared up enough she thought she could make out the sound of Basha’s voice;

“For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God…” It began. Hyde had to rewind and play it back more than once before she nearly fell over laughing despite herself.

“I bet there’s way more than one, princess…” Hyde thought snidely as the loopy audio kept playing.

“Bloody Mary, full of Vodka…” The static was making it nearly impossible to hear his voice, let alone make out where he was or what he was doing. “… Blessed are you amongst cocktails…”

Hyde had never drank alcohol. At first, she had been much too young. Then he so-called ‘accident’ had happened and suddenly, she’d been far too… Inhuman. She remembered to re-attach her gas mask as her already throbbing skull was rocked by what sounded like yet another explosion.

“… Pray for me now…” Basha’s words rang out over the static.

“What the fuck just happened?” Hyde didn’t realize she was talking out loud, too engrossed with the Basha she was listening to noticed the Basha she was sitting on was coming out of his drug-induced stupor. She rewound it, turning the volume nearly all the way up as she strained to make out what was going on in the background.

“Pray for me now and at the hour of my Death…” There had definitely been a crash followed by an explosion; Hyde could hear what sounded like nearby buildings falling over while Basha swore, clearly annoyed something had interrupted his unemotional soliloquy.

“Which we still hope is soon.” It hadn’t come from the disjointed audio track that time, resulting in Hyde crawling out of her skin as her throat closed up, making her choke. Forced to return her attention to her real life surroundings, she quickly realized her impromptu patient had returned to enough of his senses to figure out what she was doing. Basha had then reached up and wrapped his weakened hands around the base of her thin neck… The only human skin that remained between her collarbone and the bridge of her nose.

The voice on the disc finally broke apart, drowned out by waves of heavy, rolling static. In deafening silence, a now conscious Basha stared at Hyde until the audio glitched hard enough to force Hyde into painful spasms, forcing her to blink away sudden tears.

“Who the Hell is Mordred?” Overwhelmed and completely confused, Hyde wasn’t sure if she’d seen the word or heard someone say it as the audio crashed and stopped playing altogether.

“Did it hurt?” Even though he had a hard time talking due to his unregulated modulator and the anaesthetics still coursing through his system, Basha was still able to dodge her question with another question.

“Does what hurt? Your hand around my neck?” Hyde, perched as she was under his belt, refused to move or loosen his grip on her. “Hardly, princess. You’ve already done much, much fucking worse.”

“No… The disc… Did it hurt?” Basha had never been much for proper explanations.

“Maybe.” She shrugged. “I don’t know. Was it supposed to?” She didn’t feel like telling him how it had almost completely wiped out her clocks. Not after everything he’d done.

“It was supposed to self-destruct when my reactor died.” Basha stated, his chilled, dark blue gaze unwavering.

“Just like YOU were supposed to self-destruct when the Ezrmatheia died?” Hyde simply glared right back at him. “Just like Eremis did.”

“Eremis was dead before I met her.” Basha said as Hyde proceeded to pull his hands from her neck, convincing herself she was choosing to slide off of Basha and the bed and settle herself back down on the damp, cement floor. Once she’d made herself as comfortable as she could, she pulled out the pill bottle Faustus had given her along with a single syringe. “She was dead before Faustus or the Maestro knew she even existed and you don’t even know who she is so shut the fuck up.”

“My previous offer to kill you on the spot and bury you in the sand dunes out back still stands.” The murderous rage Hyde had so far been holding back was threatening to swell back up again. Basha didn’t seem to notice or care however, having shut his eyes trying to shut out and ignore their pathetic excuse of an existence. Overwhelmed, confused, angry and increasingly frustrated and tired, Hyde sighed. “Look, I can’t… REALLY shouldn’t give you another needle anymore than I can technically swallow these pain killers… But you can hold on to these anyway. Do what you want with them. I’m taking a shot and drifting off until you can stand up and walk back to wherever the Hell we wind up going.”

She’d picked up the bottle and pushed it into the palm of his right hand, tightening his freezing digits around it until she was sure he wouldn’t drop them on the floor. She then stuck herself with the needle, emptying out half it’s contents into her veins before her overburdened system softened up and began to shut down. She pulled it out, putting it away with the others as she turned into a puddle of mush next to Basha’s bed.

Unknowingly to Hyde, who’d stopped paying any kind of attention to him, he’d turned his head and was now watching her as she took a turn drifting off into the ether at the back of her head.

“A-fucking-Men, Hyde.”

Basha finally finished.

[00]

“…Fucking Brilliant…” Faustus muttered under his breath as she shook the dirt and sand out of his eyes and clothes. He’d have to hand it to Mercy and Trick; buried in the mountains, halfway between the Ezramatheia and the growing village nearby, the skeletal remains of one of the many cities they had destroyed upon their arrival to Cirxci was the last place anyone would think to look. Absolutely no one living in the immediate area had any reason to think anything was still alive back here.

What Faustus hadn’t counted on were the gale force winds that had sprung up out of virtually nowhere, whipping up a sandstorm strong enough to strip nearly all the trees bare. Walking had become a struggle as his visibility had been reduced to nothing, turning the otherwise short trip into an absolute nightmare. Thankfully, he’d been sent here on a very specific errand and had over-dressed and over-prepared himself accordingly. He’d simply pulled his hood down over his head, pulled his zipper all the way up to his nose and hurried himself along.

One could never be too careful while converting an alien planet into a new home, he knew better than most.

It had felt as though the winds had only gotten worse once he’d breached the city walls. Sticking to the dilapidated buildings, he hadn’t so much found the cellar doors as he’d tripped over and fallen through them, barely catching himself on the railings before his face had hit the ground below. He’d stood up, grateful nothing had broken before he’d remembered to triple lock the doors from the inside. Now, as annoyed as he was at all the sand he’d been forced to ingest, he supposed he could count himself lucky a sandstorm and some rusty hinges were the only major problems he’d encountered thus far.

Faustus pulled his hood down as he finished dusting himself off, digging his glasses out from the inside of his sleeve where he’d placed them to shield them from the storm. He cleaned them off as best as he could before sliding them up his nose, making note of how damp it was as his eyes adjusted themselves to the dim lighting. With only a few, small, cracked and dirt-covered windows, Faustus had to watch his step as he made his way across the cavernous space, trying not to fall over dusty crates and empty barrels, all while avoiding broken pottery vases, empty picture frames and row upon row of bookshelves coated in cobwebs and unreadable novels.

Reaching the far wall without seeing so much as a single soul, Faustus had himself wondering if he’d possibly gotten his co-ordinates wrong when he became aware of a dull but repetitive thumping sound coming from somewhere nearby. Initially believing it was only the storm knocking things around outside, he turned his head and realized it actually came from the bottom of a second, unlit stairwell, conveniently hidden behind a partially broken doorway.

With the strange noises he heard growing louder with every new step he took, an undaunted Faustus attempted to skulk his way downwards. Stealth had never been his strong suit however, and the rusty metal stairs still creaked and groaned under the weight of the heavy boots he wore. He rather quickly found himself facing another door and braced himself for whom – or what – was on the other side as he pushed it open as quietly as he could. It was only when it had swung itself inwards did Faustus bare witness to the incredibly strange spectacle that had been unfolding down here during their relatively short absence from the premises.

It was here, in the opposite corner, on a small, ratty bed covered by only a ripped up, floral mattress did he find a bare-chested and unconscious Basha. His feet had been handcuffed to the warped and misshaped frame while his hands were bound by the shirt he no longer wore. Sitting on top of him was a petite female, her shoulder-length, black hair streaked with gray while the bottom half of her face remained permanently covered with a matching black gas mask trimmed with solid gold. If Faustus felt any relief at finding them, it evaporated much too fast for it to register as he stood there for a moment and watched her.

“Would you please care to explain to me what the actual Hell you think you’re doing?” He asked, unable to come up with a rational explanation of his own.

“They told me it was an emergency.” Hyde had slowed down her movements at the sound of her voice, finally stopping herself to answer his question. “Faustus is busy, they said. We need you to come take a look at this, they said. Then they basically dragged me down here without even letting me bring any of my shit with me…”

It was only when Faustus took a step forward, his foot hitting a hand-sized, dome-shaped, metallic object did he begin to think he understood exactly what she’d done.

“So you dragged him to the bed, took his shirt off, tied him up with it and pried the cover off his modulator somehow.” Faustus could smell burnt plastic; the end result of overloaded circuitry. One more step, and he was also able to make out what he could only assume was coolant, leaking from an invisible source and dripping down his chest and stomach; “So, back to my question… What the Hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I thought they were dead.” Even with her face and voice as stifled as they were, Hyde’s anger was apparent. Her words dripped with bitterness and sarcasm. “I thought for sure the crash had killed them both. Fuck knows they both deserve it.”

Faustus opened his mouth, ready to point out she was still dodging his question… But Hyde was far from done.

“His wires are burnt and his core’s right about as fried as his fucking brain cells.” She explained as she rolled her eyes in hopeless exasperation. She picked up the knife she’d dropped upon Faustus’ arrival, hellbent on finishing what she’d started before he’d interrupted her. Faustus once again attempted to interject as she raised it over her head.

“I wouldn’t try doing that… It won’t get you anywhere.”

But Hyde had already tuned him out as she went right back to hitting the knife’s handle into Basha’s chest with all the anger and strength she could muster; “Stupid fucking idiot… What the Hell were you even thinking? Blowing up the Ezram like that… You could’ve fucking killed EVERYONE!!”

Hyde’s rage and frustrations kept growing as Faustus watched her bash the knife’s handle into his modulator again, and again, and again; “I lost both my parents and my brother because of you!!” She was talking directly to Basha as though he could hear her, her voice growing louder until she finally screamed; “Everything and everyone that ever meant anything to me because you fucking lost it over some piece of shit, suicidal female robot you’re never even going to see again!! YOU STUPID. FUCKING. ASSHOLE!!!”

An oddly passive Faustus didn’t even try to stop her as she drove the handle into Basha’s reactor one last time. Steam erupted from the broken piece of machinery as a large crack materialized across it’s surface, all while the knife’s weak handle splintered and broke apart in her hands, cutting into her flesh and drawing blood. Hyde swore profusely as she turned and threw what remained her blade at the door behind Faustus in a final fit of rage, only missing his head by a mere half an inch. Refusing to get off of Basha or the bed they were both on, Hyde dug around the many pockets she had on the pair of pants she wore until she found a pair of tweezers and began picking at the shards of plastic embedded in her skin.

Faustus moved to the head of the bed, still more concerned than irritated as he took a closer look at Basha. Unbelievably, his eyes had begun rolling around in his skull as steam kept pouring out his newly cracked reactor. His face contorted in pain as he let out a feeble groan, half-consciously attempting to move while completely unaware he’d been tied down.

“So what the Hell was that about ‘Not Getting Anywhere’ just now? I didn’t quite catch what you said.” She asked snidely as she burrowed her tweezers into her own fingers, widening her cuts and making her bleeding worse. Faustus chose not to dignify her comment with an answer as Basha struggled to wake up.

“… Smell Fire…” They had to strain to hear him talk although what he was saying sounded like utter nonsense. “…Piano Music… Still here… No… No… I SAID NO!!” He shouted as he suddenly came back to. He tried to lurch forward as a lightning fast Hyde pulled a second knife from the inside of one of the combat boots she wore and brought it up under his nose, very nearly cutting it off before his head fell back on the mattress.

“Good morning, Princess.” She leered at him as he tried and failed to make sense of what was happening to him, clearly not happy he’d woken to a murderous Hyde instead of literally anyone else.

“What the actual fuck?” He bucked his hips in a rather pathetic attempt to get her to move. Hyde simply laughed as she pressed her fingers into the swollen and delicate skin that surrounded his reactor, causing him to wince and give up as he began to cough instead. “Get rid of the damned handcuffs and then get the Hell off of me.” He ordered once he’d caught his breath.

“I already got off.” Hyde replied, her gas mask barely containing the massive grin she obviously had plastered on her face. “And even IF I wanted to let you go, I couldn’t. We’re not done with you yet, Princess.”

With absolutely nothing to add to their increasingly juvenile exchange of words, an older Faustus with matching responsibilities had dropped his sand-filled satchel on the floor and proceeded to dig out a 10cc needle along with an unlabeled bottle of anaesthetic. He filled the syringe, pushing his thumb down on the plunger until the clear liquid dripped down the side of the hollow needle. He then returned to his spot at the head of the bed.

“I don’t know what that means.” Basha was complaining. “Where am I anyway? Where the Hell is everyone else?”

“Well, the good news is, thanks to yours truly right here, you’re NOT fucking dead yet. The not so good news? By the time we’re done, you’re going to fucking wish you were.” Hyde explained with a level of glee that bordered dangerously close to pure sadism.

“That’s enough.” Faustus said, finally cutting their argument short. “Hyde, get off the bed before I stick you with animal paralyser and go prep my kit while I get him ready for the next part.”

“Next part? What next part?” Basha glanced up, both thankful and apprehensive to see another familiar face standing there. “Where’s everyone else?” He asked again.

“Don’t worry; they all know you’re alive down here. You’re just not allowed to go back in the condition you’re all in.” Faustus held Basha’s head down as he injected the full content of his syringe directly into the boy’s neck. “I can almost promise you this won’t hurt.” He said, muting Basha’s protests as the medication spread and took hold of his systems.

“You know, you didn’t have to suck ALL the fun out of it.” Hyde pointed out from her spot on the ground once the full effects had kicked in and Basha had gone back to sleep. She’d put her tweezers away and slid her second knife back into her boot, freeing her hands to go rummaging through Faustus’ things.

“You can torture him to your hearts’ content once we’re done. In the meantime, we have a job to do.” Faustus sighed as he shook his head. “There should be wraps and gloves in there somewhere. If you’d like to find them, we can get started.”

“Yes, Boss.” Hyde conceded as she kept finding, cleaning, sanitizing and lining up the contents of his satchel on a nearby table barely suited to the task. After a moment, she quietly added; “Thanks for not reporting me.”

“Thanks for not reporting you to whom? And for what?” Faustus asked with honest curiosity as he removed his crimson-colored trench coat and hung it over the door. Hyde stared at him in disbelief until he gestured at her to keep going. “We don’t have all day Hyde, hurry it up. There should be a box at the bottom with all the spare parts we need for repairs.”

“Already found it.” Hyde blew the dust off the lid before she pulled on the latch and opened it, revealing the new modular reactor Faustus had brought along with him; “It this supposed to be an upgrade? Who’s stupid fucking decision was that?”

“That’s a stupid fucking question, Hyde.” Faustus called it as he put on a pair of latex gloves and carefully wrapped them around his wrists, so they wouldn’t come off. “It’s a quick procedure. There’s no need for pointless drama.”

It was Hyde’s turn to let out a long sigh, still thoroughly exasperated as she cleaned and sanitized her hands and covered her fingers in white bandages. She then followed her master’s lead; putting on latex gloves of her own and wrapping them firmly to her bare forearms; “Fine… But only because I can keep fucking with him when he wakes up again.”

“What you do when I’m not here is entirely up to you. You know better than to come crying to me if shit hits the fan.”

“Obviously.” Hyde set the box down at the end of the row of surgical equipment she’d previously laid out. “I’m ready. Princess is going to have Hell to pay for this one.”

Faustus reached over and handed his apprentice a screwdriver while he himself picked up a scalpel; “I’m going to detach his reactor and you’ll remove it once I’d done, understood?”

Hyde nodded as he moved around the bed so they were standing across from each other. Simultaneously and without another word, they both went to work, moving as quickly as they could while outside, the universe kept on howling bloody murder.

Just like the inside of Basha’s head.

So fucking still.

Deftness in D Minor

Basha hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep until music, tinkling from a backwards and broken source, returned him to semi-consciousness. The wail of mishandled violin chords, accompanied by piano keys being played out of tune, barely covered the sarcastic snickering burrowing its way into his ears.

“Remember when we watched those ridiculous Iala’Endzi dance in their throes of death?”

There was an itch in his lower extremities as; a not-so-subtle burning sensation that quickly spread up his limbs and across his chest. Acrid steam billowed up through cracks in the ground, forcing its way down his throat and settling down at the bottom of his lungs like scorching hot lead. Basha convulsed into a coughing fit, thoroughly convinced he was breathing hellfire.

“Like watching snakes writhing in agony.”

The snickering wasn’t getting louder it was coming closer. As the force of gravity threatened to make him collapse under his own weight, Basha haphazardly teetered in place with both his hands covering his face.

“All that death and destruction.”

His thoughts were spinning out of control. His attempts at placing himself in his immediate surroundings were failing harder than his attempts at tuning out all the fucking noise.

He hadn’t been aware he’d fallen asleep… So where the Hell was he waking up?

“Such misery we wrought together.”

And that voice… That godforsaken voice… He thought he’d finally buried it along with the monster it belonged to… Yet here it was, rushing out to greet him, hissing, taunting… dangerously ominous. Basha could only watch with increasing terror as his shadow grew longer, sprouting multiple pairs of horns and elongated fingers.

There was no fucking way…

This couldn’t be happening.

“Did you honestly believe I was dead?”

The laughter that followed the question boomed off the imaginary ceiling and bounced off the non-existent walls, drowning out everything else in the room. Basha finally found himself able to think and talk, if only for a moment.

“Not quite, Little Brother.”

Dead fucking silence. Basha knew. He didn’t need to lift his head to know what was hanging directly over it; the tense chill of impending dread was making every hair on his body stand on end.

“You can feel it, can’t you?”

“No!”

But like a blanket of ashen snow, the Mad Maestro was already on him, coiling his leather-bound claws around Basha’s neck and stifling his yet unspoken words. He wrapped his other hand around Basha’s waist, pulling him close, licking the blood down his serrated nails as he drilled them into his narrow cheekbones.

“You’ve been missed, Basha.” Standing a full head taller than Basha, the Maestro had no problem at all breathing down his neck, brushing his lips against his ear as he spoke. Basha attempted to struggle but was unable to move, caught as he was in the Maestro’s inhumanly strong grasp.

The latter smirked as he moved his mouth down Basha’s jaw line, drawing more blood between his fingers as he forced his head to turn in his direction, wanting to examine it closer. “Passionate as always, I see.”

He bit the tip of Basha’s nose hard enough to make him wince before kissing his upper lip, finally letting go of his face long enough to slip behind him and place his free hand between the boy’s shoulder blades.

“I have a welcoming present for you.” The Maestro’s voice sounded as jagged as his teeth as they pressed against the soft skin of his neck. “I think you’ll appreciate the favor.”

Basha opened his mouth to protest but was interrupted by the sound of his bones snapping like twigs. He felt his knees give out as his spine buckled, blood gushing down the front and back of his white shirt. Only the Maestro’s arm stopped him from collapsing to the floor as he nearly lost consciousness again, his blacked out and blurred vision making it impossible to see or register what the Hell had just happened to him.

“He ripped your heart out for you to see. Isn’t it beautiful, Little Brother?” Said a distinctly female and instantly recognizable voice. “Impressive how it still beats.”

Using the Maestro’s arm to pull himself upright as his eyesight began to return, Basha was still barely able to process it… But there it sat, jutting out of the front of his chest, sitting between the Maestro’s fingertips as it pumped Basha’s blood down into the cracks below.

“Something for all the pain you’ve cause.” The Maestro hissed.

“I said ‘NO’!!” Basha shouted as though it would change anything. He was still unable to see Eremis. He couldn’t even tell where her voice was coming from as he tried to stop the Maestro from pulling his arm back. Too hopelessly weak, however, Basha was left stranded as the Maestro evaporated in the backdrop of their shared delusions, taking Basha’s heart along with him.

“So why are you so upset, Little Brother?” It was an incredibly stupid, yet absolutely loaded question with an equally stupid and dishonest answer and they all knew it. There was a subtle shift in the atmosphere as the Maestro’s form re-materialized itself, his hands, mouth and neck now completely covered in crimson scarlet.

“Don’t be rude. Take a look.” The Maestro’s face split open in a face-devouring rictus of a smile as he kept licking his claws. He put a finger in his mouth, sucking it clean before using it to point at something behind Basha’s left shoulder.

Basha mindlessly did as he was ordered, spinning around on his heels as a spotlight turned itself on over Eremis’ entirely naked figure, revealing her waist-long, dark brown hair, completely matted to her ivory skin… Her fuschia eyes practically glowing in the near-dark.

“No, Little Brother, look closer.” The relentlessly loud snickering was returning with a vengeance as the Maestro put his hands on Basha’s shoulders and pushed him in Eremis’ direction as his gaze came back into focus. For the third time, Basha was at an utter loss for words, his mouth dropping open as he took in the full extent of the horror standing not three feet away.

Eremis’ neck had been slit open. Not only that, it had been ripped to shreds from ear to ear, revealing all the muscles and tendons underneath. Her torso and abdomen, along with her arms and legs, were completely covered in deep cuts and even deeper gashes while her wrists and ankles had been sliced all the way down to the bone… And that wasn’t even the worst of it.

No… The worst was the way someone had attempted to fix her by stitching her wounds shut in an incredibly hasty and crude form of ‘surgery’; thick strands of coarse, black threads crisscrossed in and out of her mutilated flesh, transforming her into a terrifyingly rendered yet still entirely human ‘doll’.

“Come now, Basha, are you afraid?” Basha was still too confused and disoriented to understand how she’d suddenly appeared directly under his nose, her nails gripping onto his arms. Standing so close to each other, Basha found himself shuddering as he felt the warmth coming off of her flayed and tattered skin. “I promise it won’t hurt.”

“I don’t know what that means.” He felt her smiling against his skin as he put his hands up on her chest where his heart should have been. She wrapped her arms around his neck, her stitches getting tangled into his shaggy white hair along with her fingers. He could smell vanilla and cherries as he breathed her in, pulling her close and holding her there.

Unbeknownst to Basha however, their Mad Maestro, still standing behind him, had re-produced his heart out of seemingly thin air, flicking his tongue out from between his venomous fangs in anticipation of what he already knew was about to happen.

“Big Brother’s Watching.” Eremis bit into Basha’s earlobe as he brought her in even closer. He could feel it, all that pent up pressure building up between them. Yes, now he could fucking feel it.

“Big Brother can go fuck himself.” Basha muttered in earnest, refusing to admit the Maestro was right. Eremis freed her fingers, gently running them over the fresh scratches on Basha’s face. He sighed, bowing his head so their lips and mouth melted into each other. Eremis kept tracing her fingers down his neck and ribcage, towards his studded leather belt, the buckle of which Basha was already prying open.

“Always happy to oblige, Little Brother.” Basha didn’t know who had said it. Eremis had popped his buttons before he’d finished his sentence, had his zipper down before he’d taken off his belt and her mangled hands on his rapidly growing inches so fast, he could only teeter in place, holding on to her small frame as he gasped for breath.

“Dear God…” All that pressure… That warmth… ALL that delicious fucking friction…

“Tell me you missed me Basha.” Eremis’ fingers were playing his swollen member like a true artist while she kissed her way down and around the gaping hole in his chest, stopping to smile at the Maestro as she dragged her nails down Basha’s stomach, kneeling down at his feet.

“… No…” It was the only answer he could muster as all the words he’d conjured up inside his head disappeared. His feeble protests continued to fall on deaf ears however, as Eremis didn’t wait for his weak reply to place her lips on the tip of his throbbing erection, sending him reeling.

“… Eremis… I said no…” Except he moved his hips forward in time with her attempt to pull her head back, leaving himself exactly where he was and rendering his sentence utterly moot. Any and all thought he had left went flying out the metaphorical window, replaced instead by wave after wave of new, overwhelming and most welcomed sensations. All that mattered to Basha now was the feeling of sweet, oncoming release as Eremis sucked on his cock much as the Maestro had sucked on his own fingers.

“You’re about to fucking lose it…” Basha didn’t hear The Maestro say to him either, distracted as he was by Eremis. He arched his back as she reached the bottom of his shaft… God he was so fucking hard… So fucking close… He knotted his fingers in her hair and thrust his cock down her throat, grunting as his eyes rolled back in his skull from sheer pleasure… Looking up… Looking straight at…

“Tell me you missed me.” The Mad Maestro had moved, his face having appeared mere millimeters away from Basha’s own. He grinned like a goddamned lunatic as he hung Basha’s heart under his nose, the tender organ in his hand beating in tune to the tender organ in Eremis’ mouth.

“Come, Little Brother.” The Maestro ordered obscenely as all Basha was able to do was obey his command. He waited until Eremis had finished with him before closing his open hand, crushing Basha’s heart between his claws and letting the pieces fall into the cracks on the floor, never to be seen again.

“I told you, Little Brother. You’re much fucking welcome.” The Maestro sneered as ‘Hell’ erupted into flames around them. Basha, limp and lifeless, crumbled to the ground. His eyes, wide open but empty, didn’t see his broken heart turn into ash and dust. The Maestro and Eremis vanished faster than they’d appeared, the snickering, the giggles and the broken music they’d left behind quickly faded back into silence with them.

It was all over. They were gone.

And Basha was left behind.

All over again.

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Catharsis; A Prologue-

Still alive and thinking, Ameidjin was hopelessly wishing for a reset function she knew didn’t exist.

She, at first, had believed she was losing her sight. She thought her surroundings were beginning to fade to white. Her head had begun to spin as her memories flashed behind her eyelids at an increasingly alarming rate. There had been a burst of color… Black, blue and red… But that had been followed by nothing but static… Black… White… Grey… Continuously rolling, never ending… Static.

Ameidjin shook her head… Tried closing her eyes and opening them again but nothing was helping her at all. Nothing about her surroundings changed.

It couldn’t possibly be over already.

This wasn’t meant to be the end.  

Except standing in what had now become a mass grave, she had a round view of the Mad Maestron’s extermination in all of its twisted, rotting beauty. An ironic display of morbid grotesqueries rendered live and in high definition under the cruel glare of their planets’ sun. All of which layed within what had been a Sanctuary…. What little of it still remained.

“It was a massacre” didn’t even begin to describe the true horror that had clearly happened here. It was “Utter annihilation”… “Complete and total domination.”

Ameidjin truly thought she was losing her sight… And yet she could clearly see how there had been too many deaths in a ridiculously short time frame; blood still pooled from the piles and piles of putrefied, mummifying carcasses littering the ground… All of them butchered, mangled, mutilated… Shot, skewered, crucified to the stone beneath them… Stuffed into every crack, crag and crevice with every manner of weapon jutting out of ripped skin and broken bones… All of them… The warmth of their collective bodies still slowly rising into the atmosphere, dissipating into nothingness.

And the smell… The fetid scent of death and decay was threatening to engulf her whole. It had begun its assault on her senses long before she had made landfall. As she had moved up the shore, her bare feet had landing ankle deep in puddles of guts and gore, it had become all the more intolerable.

Now it was absolutely overwhelming… It made her failing eyes well up with tears, her nose and throat burn and her skin itch until her entire body felt wrapped up in nothing but a dull, numbing sensation. It was a stark contrast to the growing fire searing a hole in her chest.

And she’d barely just arrived.

Still… She thought… Taking it all in… Allowing herself to feel what her brothers and sisters must have felt… The fear, the pain, the sadness… she allowed all of it in, let it crawl under her skin, let it climb its way through her nervous system until all she could feel anymore was her unbearable, insurmountable anger. At “THEM”.

It was all their fault she knew. Those life sucking leeches… insufferable, unkillable insects. Rumours had foretold of their arrival but there had been warning… No indication of what was to come.

“Here”… On Cirxci… The small blue and yellow marble planet with one sun and two moons Ameidjin and her people called home. Left to its own devices, alone in a distant corner of the universe, it had developed, matured and flourished. Cirxci was separated into three major continents surrounded by countless islands and cradled by clear, emerald green waters. It had been primordial, exotic and teeming with life; a gentle nature befitting an equally gentle balance.

Then… Those ‘THINGS’ had arrived.

Even living on a not-so-distant island they had all heard the whispers floating back from the mainland. ‘THEIR’ arrival had coincided with one of their festivals and their new guests had been received as their Greater Gods finally returned. A passive people, unaccustomed to confrontation and war, they had let their guard down. They had let their friendly curiosity get the best of them and welcomed ‘THEM’ with open arms.

Ameidjin sneered in disgust as she remembered.

They had so easily accepted these newly arrived ‘Deities’ floating by some kind of unexplainable, supernatural force needed their help. Only when their Honored Ancestors had suddenly disappeared from their hallowed stone hallways had they understood not all was as it seemed.

And then it had gotten so much worse.

No one knew exactly what had happened that day. They had woken up to their sky covered in thick black smoke; one of their floating ‘Gods’ had been badly damaged, a chunk of it’s hull having been blown clear off. But by some kind of miracle, ‘It’ had survived… Jolted, tilted precariously to its side and barely functional… But ‘It’ had somehow lived to float on another day.

They hadn’t known their ‘God’ was angry.

Not until it was far too late.

Ameidjin balled her hands into fists so tight her claws drew blood from her palms. The stories they had told… The rumors that had spread… The tales of the floating mountain-sized craft along with the smaller ships they had unwittingly allowed to roam over their lands… How ‘It’ had suddenly opened ‘Its’ hatches and unleashed Holy Hell on doomed Cirxci and her defenseless people.

The insects… All those insects… Had come swarming down by what had seemed like millions. They had spread out like a plague, destroying everything in their path. With the help of their ‘Gods’ and those still aboard, the mindless soldiers had razed entire villages, captured who they could, killed who they couldn’t and taken everything they could get their hands on until there was nothing left to take.

It had been carnage. Everything and everyone had either been decimated or had simply vanished into thin air. Their waters had been contaminated; their ports reduced to ashes and their once great cities left smoldering shells of their former selves, spewing out more smoke so thick, it had blotted out the light in the sky. Even their islands hadn’t been spared. Of course, there had been survivors… But where some had died over the seas, most had been extinguished by heat, starvation and foreign diseases. The older generations had suffered shock and trauma at the terrifying sight of the newly warped landscape; their thick jungles had been razed, their lush forests reduced to dry, barren deserts and their wildlife had been completely eradicated. There hadn’t bee a single bird in the sky, not a single movement on the ground or even a quiet breeze to keep them company… nothing at all but deafening silence on their increasingly desperate and lonely journey here.

Ameidjin sucked in a breath. Her time was growing short. Every moment gone was a moment closer to her inescapable demise. They were done. Her species had been rendered extinct and already she could sense ‘It’ coming back… Their flagship was still hovering overhead… Looming in the background behind their sacred mountains waiting for her arrival. She could practically hear ‘Its’ engines; the menacing, mechanical sounds of technological torture.

“The Black Machine of Death.”

And God could she ever feel it… All the pain… The suffering… All that misery and anguish. It felt absolutely excruciating.

It felt like Hell.

‘It’ was coming closer. Sucking them all into the Void.

Ameidjin closed her eyes. There really was nothing left but the same, grey, never ending static; the dry, death-filled landscape left frozen in space and time. It couldn’t be over… This couldn’t be the…

She closed her eyes even tighter.

Flash. White. Blank.

“The End”