8FOLD/TEB: Compleat History of the Red Hart in Nine Acts
joltcity at gmail.com
Tue Mar 3 20:08:26 PST 2015
EIGHTFOLD PROUDLY PRESENTS MR. TOM RUSSELL'S
COMPLEAT AND UNABRIDGED HISTORY OF THE
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## IN NINE ACTS, RE-PUBLISHED IN CONCERT
WITH MANY HELPFUL ANNOTATIONS BY THE AUTHOR
Gods & Cosmic Beings:
OCTONION, god of eighth-dimensional algebra
SEDENION, god of sixteenth-dimensional algebra,
later and secretly the dread NEVER-LORD
RED HART, the Forest Prince, wild and untamed,
nephew and nemesis of the Never-Lord
NAROK, the dragon-king, destroyer of pantheons
NOX, the Queen of Night, long-imprisoned
AWIDES, sentient death-moon of the Anti-Planet,
ravenous and sanguine
THE PULSE COLLECTIVE, an ancient empire
THE WARNING, keeper of the door with seven seals
MONAD, a space-robot
Champions of Earth:
JULIE ANN JUSTICE, of the Seven Wonders
FAHRENHEIT MAN, of the Seven Wonders
TALOS, of the Seven Wonders
TINA WAZOWIE, paramour of Fahrenheit Man,
a popular musician
BLUE BOXER, of the Daylighters
VANESSA MORRISON, called Van, a smuggler,
ex-patriot of Earth
MATT SHARP, a soldier, discharged and weary,
later host to the Red Hart
JAMY LO, an alien scientist, credited with the
discovery of carbon-based life
A literary SCHOLAR of some renown
CITIZENS of Earth, and other planets
Several SHADES in thrall to the Never-Lord
ACT I, SCENE I. Earth, the ruins of Las Vegas.(1)
O once on Earth was brightly-starred the night.
The dinosaurs and daughters watched them rapt,
And wondered at the heavens with delight!
Then came the hour of man (and "hour" is apt).
The Light inspired men to build and think;
And now, the cities' lights occlude the stars.
Once bright, now dimly doth they shine and blink.
So too does deadly Venus, wand'ring Mars,(3)
Mercury boiling, secret Saturn, Jove.
Some say their sacred Light has been profaned.
But false they mirror the sun which round they rove.
Lamplight does not reflect but shines unfeigned.
And thus, mine ancient eyes do find men's lights
To be more pleasing than the cosmic night's!(4)
[Enter SEDENION in a flash of light.](5)
I greet my father, great Octonion!
Octonion returns your greeting. Hail!
Well met, Sedenion, my son, my sun!
Though I am glad to give you company,
I do not know the why you summoned me.
Ill tidings, son Sedenion. Behold!
The cosmic dam has broke.
It can be felt.
The god-sea trickles out into the night. (6)
The universal ocean vast and black
Will be consumed and lost. All lost! But why?
Five years ago, the Dyzen'thari broke (7)
Through from their universe to Earth. A crack!
A crack in time and space that opened wide!
The cosmic dam like glass did crack but hold.
Relentless did the bleak god-sea batter
Until at last did endless glass shatter!
All lost! All lost!
Do not despair, my son!
For are we not the gods of algebra?
Do not we speak the tongue of creation?
Are not we enemies of entropy?
Are not we ageless as the integers?
Octonion and son Sedenion!
Sedenion and old Octonion!
O father, I am shamed and justly so.
For now I see the course of action plain!
Shall now we speed to edge of space and time
And there together break the seven seals? (7)
My fool, my boy! The seven seals? No. No!
To break the seals shall heap fresh doom on doom!
Is not our only hope the Forest Prince?
The Red Hart! "He shall stem the god-sea's rage!
The last true hope!" The Red Hart must be freed!
Free him, free his uncle, the Never-Lord!
At omens do you clutch. I raised you not
In darkness, but in numbers, Light, and law.
"The last true hope!" Tis just a children's rhyme.
What hope is there, if not "the last true hope"?
I speak of Awides.
My fool, my father! Awides is worse!
OCTONION [crackling with cosmic power]
Call not me fool, my sweet Sedenion!
I am an older god than thou, and wise!
I'm quick to rage and terrible in wrath!
SEDENION [crackling with cosmic power]
A younger god I am, yes, this is true.
But yet your match in both wisdom and wrath.
And swift, as youth is swift. Your match and more!
Sedenion is twice you, god of eight!
I am the sixteen-dimensional god!
Do not trifle with me, oh ageless one!
On Awides you pin all life's last hope?
You think you'll tame that beast?
He shall be tamed!
For eight-sided norm'd algebra does solve
The Equation Impossible! Now, quick!
Together to present my proof! Quick! Quick!
Sedenion says no! Your arrogance
Will doom all Life! And that I'll not permit!
You'll not unleash the sleeping moon of death!
And you, my son, shall not undo the seals!
Both Never-Lord and nephew must not wake!
And so for life of all, your life I take!
[A cosmic battle. SEDENION falls.]
These times are dark, to need dark deeds. What now?
My son alone could leapfrog boundless space.
I must now find another way. But soft!
The son is strong, and only sleeps. Aloft!
[SEDENION is caged in a cube, and the cube ascends.]
And so I bind him now in box of eight.
To Awides! I pray I'm not too late!
ACT I, SCENE II. Earth. The ruins of Las Vegas.
[A space-corvette (small warship), the Plus-One, lands. From the ship enters VAN.]
Oh boy, Earth. This miserable pig-sty. I left it when I was a wee girl, and I had a reason. It was too small for me. Got a one-in-a-billion chance to dance in the stars, so I did. Who wouldn't? Well, maybe you wouldn't, if your brain was made of rocks. Mine wasn't, so I did. Swore I'd never come back to Earth, unless there was a reason, and a good one. There is a reason, and a good one, and that's money, so I'm here. A lot of money, and apparently this Octonion is good for it. Oh, this must be my cargo now. Howdy! (10)
I do return thy howdy. Speak I to
Vanessa, of the House of Morrison?
Okay, sure, why not. Please, just call me Van. So, where is it you want me to take you? I've never seen these coordinates before, and can't quite grok them. Figure it's someplace spicy with the amount of space-bucks you're shelling out.
It has a thousand names in countless tongues,
As does your Earth, called Terra, Three, and more.
Its truest name, if only one is true,
Are plotted points of x and y and z.
So too, our destination-destiny!
Okay, you really like maths, "language of the universe", I got it, thanks. Can we just get out of here? I hate this lousy mudball.
[VAN exits into the ship.]
She hates the Earth? Methinks before we're done
To Earth she'll gladly speed in her Plus-One.
I can totally still hear you.
[OCTONION exits into the ship, and it ascends.]
ACT I, SCENE III. Deep Space. The Pulse Collective.
[Enter the chorus of the PULSE. Each couplet is spoken with a different set of voices, and each member of the chorus is a member of overlapping sets; a study in harmony and disharmony.]
The dam has broke! How shall the Pulse survive?
The god-flood! Shall it wash o'er all alive?
But foolish Earth may prove to be the key.
Men thought it center of reality.
How close! For Earth sits small in boundless space,
Yet on the fault-line sits the human race. (12)
The multiverse! It bleeds there most and weeps.
Into a counter-Earth, the god-sea seeps! (13)
We'll take "our" Earth to save us all from death!
But stop we there? No, no, our plans have breadth!
We'll conquer Earth and crack the fault-line wide!
Then 'cross each universe the Pulse will stride!
An empire infinite! Of countless suns!
An empire infinite! Of countless suns! (14)
ACT I, SCENE IV. Aboard the Plus-One.
[VAN and OCTONION. The dashboard beeps.]
We're nearly here, mystery-man. But I don't see any "here" here. Just an aimless asteroid.
Tis not an aimless rock, but tis a moon.
Must be some orbit! My ship isn't detecting any planets.
It won't, sweet Van.
Seriously, don't call me that, it's creepy.
It circles 'round nothing,
And yet something. Tis Awides, Death-Moon,
Belonging to the Anti-Planet, Dis.
... That sounds pretty heavy.
Tis not; tis held by anti-gravity.
Not what I meant. So why are we here?
I shall awake this sleeping murder-moon,
And harness Awides to destroy death.
Yeah, that sounds totally reasonable and not at all insane. So I'm incredibly glad I took this job.
This must be done with care, to end the end.
I shall transmit my proof, and tame this moon.
The Equation Impossible, if solved,
Shall make my will his will! And so, I will!
[He crackles with cosmic power.]
My concentration must be absolute!
For one mistake shall free the bloody brute!
ACT II, SCENE I. The Edge of Space and Time.
[A great and arcane prison with seven seals. Enter SEDENION.]
Mine foolish father boxed me up in eights.
But I've got sixteen sides and more besides;
For bold Sedenion defies the fates!
With but a blink, across all space he rides!
So here I am, the Edge of Space and Time.
And before me, the secret seven seals.
"Tis only when the fearful hour doth chime,
And when the final story told, the wheels
Begin to grind and stop-- then beats red hearts."
The time foretold! Is not it night and now?
The hour is here; the final story starts.
If but I knew its ending, when and how.
Are tales but tales? If freed from yonder room,
Will Red Hart save us, or heap doom on doom? (15)
[Enter, in a flash of light, THE WARNING.]
THE WARNING (16)
Who dares profane this place so long forbid?
I dare! I come to free the Forest Prince.
Your name, young godling.
Sixteen names I have.
Which would you like?
Sedenion the bold.
Your father, great Octonion the wise.
Sedenion's both bold and wise, old man.
And yet you seek to serve the Never-Lord.
Just once I will forgive your fool remark.
I free the nephew, not his uncle dread.
The need is now and dire. The times are dark.
The god-sea floods forth free to drown us dead.
Red Hart's twin hearts will never beat alone.
For evil-heart must beat in time 'gainst good. (16)
You think, young god, the consequence is known.
For youth is youth, and knows not what it should.
I warn you now; I've virtues beyond count.
But patience numbers not among them, fool!
But still the warning shall The Warning give.
To free the Never-Lord kills all who live.
Time before Time, they fought, Red Hart and he.
Each mighty blow did end a galaxy.
Their ancient war must not resume once more.
All life is lost if you open this door.
Is not the god-sea worse? It ends not Life,
But makes it never-was, erased from time.
I'll gladly end it all, if all still was.
For Death is only just if once was Life. (17)
And yet I pray Red Hart shall find a way.
Be gone, old man; I've heard what you've to say.
[Exit THE WARNING in a flash of light.]
Now by my hand the starting seal is broke!
"The evil-heart must beat in time 'gainst good."
Tis true, of course, the words The Warning spoke.
For fire must burn away the walking wood,
Or else the new will not a-sprout and thrive.
Though brightly burn the suns, e'en they go black...
... The second seal. The third. The fourth. And five!
And now, for six. One more. No going back.
Tis strange, that Bad is twined with Good, and Pain
With Beauty. Strange, for One is never Aught!
How Life can equal Death, I can't explain.
It beats against all that my father taught.
Our last true hope, yet certain doom: Red Hart!
I broke the seventh seal, and played my part! (18)
[The prison opens. A bolt of red shoots out and exits. SEDENION watches, and wonders.]
He's free! O Prince of Forests-All, gods-speed!
But where's the uncle dread, the Never-Lord? (19)
Did stag slay sin while locked in timeless time?
Was wise Octonion, my father, wrong?
[He laughs and dances hysterically]
Oh yes, so wrong, oh yes, at last, at last!
So swift Sedenion, the six and ten,
I saved us all at last from doom of dooms!
I laugh! I spit upon my father's eight!
I am his double! Master! Teacher! Lord!
[Exit SEDENION, laughing. THE WARNING is suddenly visible.]
The god cannot the lurking devil see.
As One is Aught, now Never-Lord is thee.
ACT II, SCENE II. Aboard the Plus-One, orbiting the death-moon.
[OCTONION, alone, screaming. Enter VAN.]
What's going on?
My son... my son has done the foolish thing.
I fear that we are doomed and he is damned.
Is he here? On Awides?
A thousand-thousand galaxies away.
I felt him like a ripple in a pond,
So fleeting, brief and barely there. But there,
But for a second, for a single breath.
But long enough to break mine sacred trance,
And with it dash away our only chance.
Like, our only chance? Or are you just being, y'know, cosmic?
The god-sea free, to drown the universe,
To wash it all from time and memory.
The uncle's free, to rule the universe,
To make all hearts his heart, all thoughts his thoughts.
The nephew's free, to burn the universe
Like ants, if that will stop the Never-Lord.
And death-moon free, to kill the universe,
For I did fail to bring the beast to heel. (20)
Yes. Awides does wake, and hungers. Oh!
AWIDES [a booming voice] (21)
Delicious! Been so long since ate god-meat!
Sweet blood-of-stars and flesh-of-gravity!
Must swallow slow to savor such flavor!
That's. That's a crazy moon, and it's talking about eating you.
And you! So young and sexy-sex! A bite! (22)
A nibble, thou! Light snack! But first, the meal!
[OCTONION collapses, reeling.]
Vanessa, I shall be dead anon.
The murder-moon may kill you next, poor Van.
I kinda heard that part.
Too late for me, too late, but not for you.
There's but one chance to save yourself and all.
For as the Never-Lord now lives inside
Sedenion, I might yet live in you.
I'm really not sure what any of that means. I don't even know who Sedenion is.
No time, no time! For he winnows me down.
So smooth! Velvet!
My hand, take it in yours.
To pass to your young body my god-seed.
You shall become the demigod of eight,
And carry on my endless vigilance.
No, I don't want anything to do with your god-seed.
You understand me not. The universe
Now sings to you the song of destiny!
Oh, I got that. I know what it is. It's not you being squicky. It's cosmic stuff. Saving the universe. Your song of destiny, your god-flood, your murder-moon. Algebra. And I don't want it. Any of it!
OCTONION [lunging towards her]
We seldom choose the times in which we're born.
I die, but not the deathless Eight-Power!
I said no! (23)
[She fires her pistol at him. He dies, vanishing in an explosion of light.]
Sorry, math-magic man. But my first rule is, I make my rules.
You killed him! Choking, gagging, greasy, dead!
God-slayer! Succulent! Eat you instead!
You think you're the first guy tried to eat me? Puh-lease.
[VAN rushes to her control panel.]
C'mon, girl. Something tells me you got to be faster than a stupid, sub-literate moon. Let's blow this stand of popsicles.
[Exit VAN in the Plus-One, pursued slowly by the moon.]
ACT III, SCENE I. Outside the Dark Sleep. (24)
[A massive, multi-spired citadel. Enter SEDENION, descending from space.]
What place is this? And what has drawn me here?
Tis strange, but familiar. Tis like those dreams
Recalled when waking: fleeting, yet just there,
Just out of reach, receding. Likewise seems
I've seen before this bleak and haunting keep.
[Enter the SHADES.] (25)
By fruit is known the tree; as these are Shades,
The uncle's thralls, so this must be Dark Sleep,
His citadel. What's this? They bend their blades
To me! They think Sedenion's their Lord!
They fathom not that he is dead and dust.
And watch: I raise my arm, and they their sword!
Strange! Sinister! How have I earned their trust?
It matters not; for now a plan I see
These soulless souls may be of use to me. (26)
FIRST SHADE [of many]
The master lives again!
I'll play along.
Command us, sire! We'll carry out your will!
My faithful faceless slaves, I wish to know
To where my wretched nephew's fled?
Where walls between the worlds are weak, and blur.
The perfect place to fight the ancient flood.
And full of allies, champions of Light.
Has he, the Forest Prince, yet found his host?
He circles aimlessly, sweet Nothing King.
If Earth is threatened, quick he'll spring to life.
The need is now, Red Hart. I'll send these Shades
To run amok, then he'll run them aground.
My slave. I bid you go to Earth,
And take thy brothers bleak, to control minds
And make them ours, or else to kill them dead.
Thy will be done! Thy will, and only thine!
[Exit most of the SHADES, ascending.]
My father would just end them all, these Shades.
Again, the son is smarter than the eight.
In name of Love I'll wield the tools of Hate. (27)
[Exeunt all to inside the Dark Sleep.]
ACT III, SCENE II. Earth's troposphere.
[Enter WAZOWIE and FAHRENHEIT MAN, aloft on auras of ice and flame.]
But man, it is a scrumptious day.
FAHRENHEIT MAN (29)
And yet it pales next to you, my sweet Tina.
You're gonna make me barf with all that mushy-gushy stuff, hot-pants.
But I speak only the words that are emblazoned upon my heart.
Not to lay some exposition on you here, Peter, but look-it: the number of days when I'm not on tour this month I can count on my left hand. Number of days when you don't have to do some save-the-world crap, that's my right hand. Finding a finger that's on both hands is, like, physically impossible, because again, we're talking two different hands here, but somehow, we've done it, and we have a perfectly scrumptious-- again, sir, I say scrumptious!-- afternoon to knock some boots in the clouds, and you're wasting it waxing iambic. So, shut up your face already.
You shut up your face. (30)
I'll shut up yours!
[She kisses him forcefully.]
You're still talking.
FAHRENHEIT MAN [spying something]
Tina! Watch out!
[The SHADES enter, descending like comets, and exit towards the surface. WAZOWIE and FAHRENHEIT MAN scramble out of the way.]
Like I was saying, a perfectly scrumptious day we can spend saving the world.
[Exeunt to the surface.]
ACT III, SCENE III. A forest.
[Enter MATT SHARP with an urn.]
Here we are. This spot's as good as any, right? Hoping... hoping you're not too particular about it. You said a river in the woods, and woods is woods, and these are woods and this is a river.
[He opens the urn and scatters the ashes.]
I don't have any words for you, Ryan. Don't think you'll mind over-much, as you ain't here to hear them. Wish you were. By rights our places should be swapped. Some mornings I wish they were. Some mornings I wish you never put yourself out there for me in Afghanistan. I should've been the one. But only some mornings; I ain't ungrateful for the life you gave me. Quite the opposite. Just sometimes wish I knew what I was supposed to do with it.
[He is struck by a bolt of red lightning. His body crackles with energy.]
What's happening to me? It feels like every bit of me is being pulled apart inside of me and slammed back together into something... something new!
[He is transformed into RED HART: he wears a red costume that covers everything except his face. From the top of the headpiece sprouts two magnificent antlers composed of pure and brilliant light.]
RED HART (32)
In double hearts now beats Forever-Pulse, (33)
And once more I am free! The Forest Prince!
The champion of Light and Life! Red Hart!
I sense his Shades are near, and so I start!
[He exits, leaping into the sky.]
ACT III, SCENE IV. New York City.
[Enter, then exit, a fleeing, screaming swarm of CITIZENS. Enter FAHRENHEIT MAN and WAZOWIE, throwing blasts of concentrated fire and ice energy off-stage. Finally, enter the SHADES.]
They neither burn nor freeze!
Yeah, but it's slowing them down, right? Buys all these people time to evacuate.
[One of the SHADES fires a blast of dark energy, sending WAZOWIE into the side of a building. FAHRENHEIT MAN rushes to her.]
Don't fuss over me, you big doofus! I can handle myself!
[She takes to the air, and gets back to blasting.]
FAHRENHEIT MAN [using a comm device]
This is Fahrenheit Man of the Seven Wonders! With me is Tina Wazowie, ice-siren of my secret heart!
Seriously, not the time!
FAHRENHEIT MAN [taking to the air]
We are requesting assistance against unknown entities of vast cosmic power! Without help, I fear we shall soon be overwhelmed!
RED HART [off, booming]
I hear your call, o man of flame; I come!
What the goof?
[RED HART crashes to the Earth like a meteor. Several of the SHADES are destroyed in his cosmic wake. He stands.]
Red Hart! The master's hated nephew's here!
Oh yes, you slaves of Nothing! Now you face
My mystic Battle-Antlers! Die, you fiends!
Now die, and scatter to the cosmic winds!
[RED HART charges at them, head-bent, his antlers aglow. Each one he charges is thrown into a building, and explodes.]
Hey moose-guy, let's try to minimize the property damage, huh?
I don't think he's listening! But look! I think his mere presence is weakening them! Maybe at last we can do some damage!
[FAHRENHEIT MAN and WAZOWIE blast some of the remaining SHADES, and it destroys them. Between them and RED HART, soon only the FIRST SHADE remains.]
Now speak, you Shade, and tell me where's your Lord?
You Prince of Fools! I'm but my master's sword!
No voice or thought have I to call my own;
And for my failure must I now atone!
[He disappears in a flash of black energy.]
Mine uncle's wrath is terror incarnate,
Yet he shall live, if life without free thought
Can still be called a life. And that I doubt.
That... that's deep and all, guy, but would you mind telling us what's the what? Who're those goons? Who're you? What's the deal with the antlers?
They called you Red Hart?
I'm called by that, and other ancient names.
I am the sacred Prince of Forests-All,
And these, mine mighty antlers of battle be.
With them, I wield the wild untamed light-force,
The primal stuff of Creation itself!
Um, okay. I got that. I think.
And those, the Shades that serve the Never-Lord,
my father's brother, who doth seek to bind
All life, free life, to his dark boundless will!
If I am free, so must be he, for we
Were locked us both behind the seven seals,
For thirteen billion years as reckons Earth.
I don't think there were deer thirteen billion years ago.
The door was sealed with powers far beyond
E'en mine; to open it would take e'en more.
I fear some god has gone insane, or worse:
Some evil threatens end the universe!
[An explosion of cosmic red light, centered on RED HART. In its wake, unconscious, is MATT SHARP.]
It looks like a man. Probably host to this cosmic entity called the Red Hart. We need to get him to a hospital.
I'll carry him so he doesn't go up in flames. Wait, hospital? No, man. He needs medical attention and monitoring and maybe a cup to whiz in, sure, but not a hospital. What happens if he exploderizes again?
You're right, sweet Tina. We'll take him to the Lighthouse and keep him in our med-bay for observation. For if any might aid him in his dire quest, and safeguard both Earth and universe, it could only be the Seven Wonders!
I really wonder sometimes why I'm dating you.
[Exeunt, in flight.]
ACT III, SCENE V. The Plus-One.
[A beeping alarm. VAN rushes in and shuts it off.]
Approaching the Earth. Great. Just great. Just what I always wanted. And by always, I mean never. Still. If anyone can stop a crazy murder-moon, it's going to be the four-colour crowd.
[The ship shakes and rocks. VAN grips the dashboard.]
Whoa! What's going on, girl?
[She presses some buttons.]
Oh, I knew I should have got the core changed last year! I know it's overdue. I was going to do it after this job. Just hang on a little bit longer, sweetheart, okay?
[The ship shakes again.]
[The lights go out.]
Hey! I didn't mean it! Oh, c'mon...!
[Exit VAN and her ship, spiraling uncontrollably towards the Earth.]
ACT IV, SCENE I. The Lighthouse. (34)
[Enter MATT SHARP from one door.]
[Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE from another.]
JULIE ANN (35)
You're up. Mister... Sharp?
... Yes. You're Julie Ann Justice. I seen your picture on the news.
Yes. You're in the Lighthouse, Mr. Sharp.
How do you know my name?
Someone saw your picture on the news. You saved New York from those things. Do you remember that?
Sort of. It's kind of fuzzy. Like trying to remember something I read. The plot of a movie I saw a long time ago.
You called them Shades. Those things. Said they served the Never-Lord?
It rings a bell, but I really don't know more than what he said-- what I said. And I don't really know how much of that I really understood. His vocab's a little more highfalutin than mine. Is he, it, whatever, is he still inside of me?
We've been running scans since Fahrenheit Man brought you in. There's definitely some kind of ancient cosmic radiation permeating your cells. It's what triggered your transformation into this Red Hart.
"Ancient cosmic radiation." Well, that don't sound healthy.
We're still trying to figure that out. Touching on that. Now that you're up. We can't keep you here against your will, but...
No, I'll stick around if you folks will have me. Something heavy must be going down if some cosmic space-god is living inside of me, ready to burst out at random intervals I can't control, and I figure you lot have more experience with that than I do.
We've done this kind of thing before, sure.
You folks have a commissary around here?
Yeah, I'll show you around...
[Alarums buzzing. Enter, via jetpack, TALOS.]
Jules! I see our guest is awake.
Just getting acquainted, Talos. What's with the bells and whistles?
There's a spaceship on fire heading straight for New York. We've got two minutes to redirect it before the governor fires the ion missiles.
MATT [transforming into RED HART]
Then time is precious, and the need is now!
This mortal form's transformed by cosmic Light!
ACT IV, SCENE II. Earth's troposphere.
[Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE, and TALOS, in flight, the latter carrying RED HART.]
Behold! The mystery ship doth now approach!
[Enter the Plus-One, aflame. RED HART'S Battle Antlers crackle with energy.]
Tis but a simple trick to steady her,
To hold aloft the vessel like a cloud,
For I alone can wield the stuff of stars!
Julie, can you crack open the ship and see if anybody's still inside?
JULIE ANN [Trying]
It's too hot. It'll melt my skin right off.
[Enter FAHRENHEIT MAN.]
Am I too late to help?
Just in time, I think. Can you draw off the flames so Julie can get in there?
[The flames are drawn into FAHRENHEIT MAN'S body. JULIE ANN rips open the hull.]
Cool as cucumbers.
[She enters the Plus-One and emerges with the unconscious VAN.]
She's alive. Barely.
Now what do we do with the ship?
Within that shell mine antlers do detect
Such peerless particles of power pure
And ancient that they must can only be
The scattered echoes of a murdered god!
That's... that's not good. Right?
E'en should we shove this ship to distant voids
Away from precious life, it still may prove
A wild and dang'rous thing in evil hands.
Yet like all matter, never can it be
Destroyed nor made, but only be contained.
[His antlers bristle with cosmic power, and the ship collapses into a cube the size of a basketball. The cube flies to RED HART'S hands.]
Both god and girl we'll speed to thine safe keep,
And answers find when she awakes from sleep!
ACT IV, SCENE III. The Lighthouse.
[Enter RED HART, JULIE ANN JUSTICE, and FAHRENHEIT MAN.]
Where be your lady, man who burns white-hot?
Though my sweet Tina is bold of heart, and skilled in battle, she does not live for adventure, but to entertain as a musician.
So-- Red Hart. Before we left, you wanted something to eat...?
'Twas mortal flesh that did request thy meal.
This form doth sup upon the sacred stars.
No food do I require, fair battle-wench.
... I'm going to stop you right there while you're so very, very not ahead.
[Enter TALOS in his jetpack.]
The lady's awake.
You know, you can just walk like a normal person.
ACT IV, SCENE IV. The Lighthouse, infirmary.
[VAN in bed. Enter TALOS, JULIE ANN JUSTICE, FAHRENHEIT MAN, and RED HART.]
Talos said your name is Vanessa Morrison?
You're from Earth?
Not by choice. Can we skip the pleasantries? I have some super-heavy end-of-the-world stuff to lay on you guys.
TALOS [quietly to FAHRENHEIT MAN]
Thank you, Wazowie.
FAHRENHEIT MAN [quietly]
I'm going to ignore that.
Super-heavy end-of-the-world seems to be in season.
I was acting as transport for this cosmic maths-god dude, Octonion. He was trying to mind-control a, hang on... a death-moon. Long story short, it didn't work. Maths-god is dead, death-moon is on the loose, and I think it's headed this way. It, like, kills people. Eats them? Also kinda pervy.
Red Hart, does this ring any bells?
Yes, once there was a beastly moon of death,
Mine equal both in age and cosmic might.
'Twas Awides, that sleeping circled Dis.
That's the one.
This god Octonion, he must be mad
To think once free it'd be his to command.
He was doing pretty good until something distracted him. Some other god, I forget the name now, he freed some Never-Lord and the Red Hart. Which is you, right? Antlers kind of give it away.
That much is known, but not the reason why.
For only mad and evil gods would loose
Upon sweet creation such eldritch ills.
For moon and uncle both will end the end.
Van, this Octonion-- did he say what he was trying to do?
He was going to use the moon as a weapon against something. It was hard for me to follow exactly. He talked kinda like, well, like this guy. No offense. The thing he was trying to stop, it had him real scared. It was... It was a flood...
A flood? Does that mean anything to you?
That broke at last must be the cosmic dam,
Which did hold back the god-sea. Just a touch
And matter is destroyed, and time undone.
Great. So this is worse than a sentient death-moon?
The moon, the flood, my uncle: all are doom.
But flood is slow; the bad moon's on the rise.
Thanks, we'll give that... credence. You guys see what I did there? Credence?
TALOS [to FAHRENHEIT MAN]
Hubby's the funny one.
So we'll concentrate on the moon first, worry about this flood later. So, death-moon. How do we stop it? Can we punch it? Is it something we can punch? I'm partial to problems I can solve by punching them. (37)
When first this demon moon did terrorize
The cosmos, all its brilliant, peerless minds
Did swiftly gather and, together, work
To solve the problem. But, though they had toiled
For life-spans infinite, they found no cure,
No shield that could defend the universe,
No weaponry that could the beast destroy,
No chains that could restrain its fearsome might,
No love that could its heart to pity move.
No hope, except to trick the moon to sleep,
And pray its slumber could outlast all time,
That none would dare disturb his restless rest.
So they just kicked the can down the road. Nice to know some things stay the same after fifteen billion years.
And I take it that, short of giving him eight trillion milligrams of Ambien, we're not going to get him to go back to sleep.
The moon is mad, but not bereft of wits.
Yeah, well, neither are we. We'll figure this out. Talos, you better call the Daylighters. We need Derek Mason.
VAN [after a beat]
ACT V, SCENE I. Within the Dark Sleep.
My Shades-- his Shades-- the Shades I've nimbly plucked
>From evil's heart, and by my cunning made
The slaves of Light, and in mine pocket tucked--
As planned by antlers did disperse and fade.
The nephew's woke by great Sedenion,
And found some allies brave to save us all.
But yet I feel my work is not yet done,
And more than Shades at my command and call!
Yes, all the Never-Lord's dark minions, mine!
But how? The uncle's gone, by nephew slain!
His citadel, his Shades, his Dragon's shrine,
Should be no more. And yet his toys remain.
Such powers would corrupt a lesser heart.
But mine alone will bend them to my art! (38)
[Enter the SHADES.]
You shadows were of paltry use 'gainst Light.
Red Hart shall have a harder time 'gainst Night.
You speak of Narok, Lord?
Yes! Break his chains!
We'll soon cut short the time my nephew reigns!
[Exeunt the SHADES.]
With dragon free, all life shall join his cause. (39)
And yet, tis strange: this action gives me pause.
ACT V, SCENE II. The Lighthouse.
[Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE, escorting BLUE BOXER and a SCHOLAR.]
... And I may have accidentally compromised your secret identity with a civilian. Sorry.
BLUE BOXER (40)
It happens. ...A lot. I'm kinda used to it by now. Frankly, I'm surprised it didn't come out with Snowden with all the rest of you. (41)
So where are we at?
Do you want the TL, DR, or do you want the version that makes me sound busy and impressive?
Spoil-sport. We don't know exactly what the moon is, how it works, or where it is, but we're working on that. We don't know what the god-in-the-box is or what it can do, but we're working on that. Red Hart, Never-Lord, god-flood, we don't really understand any of that but...
You're working on that?
Yeppers. I'd like to try to get some more information from Red Hart.
I should warn you, he can be a little hard to parse.
That's why I brought along an interpreter.
Here comes our man now. Sans antlers.
[Enter MATT SHARP.]
Good afternoon, Mr. Sharp. This is Blue Boxer and...
Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor for the Humanities at Yale University. We were hoping we could talk to your, uh, alter-ego. (42)
Sorry to disappoint, sir. But I don't have any control over him. He just seems to come out when he's needed, and I guess he's the judge of that.
Maybe try? Like you're meditating? Focus on what it felt like when he took over. The physical sensations.
I'll give a shot.
[He closes his eyes, clinches his fists, and concentrates, straining. Then he flatulates.]
I've suffered far worse. My husband is ninety percent gas most of the time. (43)
I mean I'm sorry I let you folks down. I know this is awfully important and that you're all counting on him. On me. I just feel so small. You guys do this all the time. But for me, I'm just a normal guy. This all just feels so... impossible and big.
Your name is Matt?
I know what you're feeling, Matt. I'm a normal guy. I mean, I'm a kind of a genius, but normal.
I've felt it before. That everything was too big for one person. And it was. It almost always is. But that's why there's not just one of us. It's not just on you, or the space-god living inside of you, and it's not just on me.
I know what you mean. I was in the army. I was part of my squad. Guess the only difference is, there I had training, and I felt like I was pulling my weight.
[Exeunt BLUE BOXER and MATT, still in conversation.]
So, Harold Bloom. "Invention of the Human." Big fan.
Thanks. I like your miniskirt.
ACT V, SCENE III. The Lighthouse, infirmary.
[Enter VAN from the bathroom.]
Stuck on Earth, and an overactive bladder. Great. Bad enough my ship was wrecked; maybe I could fix that. But they went and turned it into some cosmic knick-knack leaking off his god-stuff. What am I going to do with that? Nothing, that's what. It's not like I'm going to find another one. Not on Earth: there's a reason I left and never looked back. Finding a way off this planet, it's worse odds than winning the lottery. Finding it a second time-- worse than winning it twice.
[Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE.]
You prone to soliloquizing?
A little bit, sure. Spent most of my life making cargo runs in Deep Space. Crew of one.
Nah, I'm good company. Better than most people on this mudball. Present company excluded, I'm sure.
Oh, I'm sure.
Maybe you can help me? Get back into space?
I'm not sure how long you've been gone, but interstellar travel's still a ways away. Maybe give it ten or twenty years. Or centuries. Not sure which.
Yeah, but you're super-people. You've got to have some way to get up there when things go agley.
Usually whatever's going "agley" comes to us.
But you've been up there, huh? Met aliens, seen planets, stars...? Must've been wonderful.
All that and a box of crackers, yeah. But it's not just that. On Earth, it's like you're born in a box you never get out of. You get born in a particular place and time, to particular people, who you have to care about, because they're family. And they bring with them all these obligations and circumstances. And wherever and whenever you are, that determines who you're going to meet, maybe who you're going to marry, what your life is going to be. No one ever starts clean. No one ever really lives. You always have to play the hand you're dealt, and when you're done, whatever you've done, it's dealt the hand for the next generation. Space, it's like a big reshuffle. I could be whoever I wanted to be, and that had jack-all with being born in Aberdeen in 1975, with what my parents did.
Our records have it as '72.
VAN [Ignores her]
And you're right, maybe in ten or twenty years, maybe in our lifetime, the whole human race will be able to get up and go there. And bring it all up there with them. And then absolutely ruin it.
You must care something for the Earth, if you came back to warn us about Awides.
Tell yourself that, if you like.
You're recovering well. Get some rest. In a day or so you'll be free to go.
[Exit JULIE ANN.]
I'll go, but I sure as hell won't be free.
[A beat, then exit VAN, urgently, to the bathroom. Enter MATT SHARP, in pain, followed by BLUE BOXER and the SCHOLAR. Re-enter JULIE ANN.]
What's going on?
Came over him all of the sudden.
Feels like I'm about to throw up all my insides!
[BLUE BOXER knocks on the bathroom door.]
VAN [from within]
[MATT screams, is engulfed by cosmic light, and is transformed to RED HART.]
I fear my host doth wear a little thin.
No man is meant to hold a god within.
I think I got that much. Each time he transforms, it's going to take more of a toll on Sharp.
Could it kill him?
It could. We should get Fay to look at his biometrics. (44)
No time! The dragon's free! His chains undone!
The universe shall be engulfed in flames!
I feel and heed the cry of cosmic blood!
Before I go I'll seal the Earth from hate,
Then quick across all time and space my gait!
[Exit RED HART, leaping into the air and through the ceiling. The others cover their head and jump away.]
Is he going to fight the death-moon?
I don't think so. From the notes I've been given, Awides has never been called a dragon, and the metaphor most consistently employed is that he was awakened, not unchained. I think this is something else.
So, yet another thing that can end the universe just came out of the woodwork. I'm surprised we've lasted this long.
ACT V, SCENE IV. Deep Space.
[Enter RED HART, bristling with cosmic power.]
My antlers know the cosmic tides of space
As blades of grass know whispers of the wind.
And so I know the dragon's free, and here.
These borrowed mortal eyes cannot behold
His manacles, but eyeless eyes of gods
Can pierce the veils of infinity with ease.
I see thy fetters, Narok! Now appear!
[Previously invisible, NAROK appears, mammoth beyond comprehension.]
You need not bellow, young fool forest prince.
You call me young? A fool perhaps I am,
But young? I am before beginnings, King.
And I, before "before". To me, e'en "gods"
Are but sweet infants, preening, meaningless.
And yet to such a god you are enslaved.
The Never-Lord was never lord of me,
and never made the Dragon-King a Shade.
My will remains my own, and never his.
I serve him freely, for my own purpose,
So far beyond your ken, oh tiny brain.
All brains are small, but motes and specks of dust,
Against mine: greater than a hundred suns,
In size and brilliance both, is Narok's mind.
You are, indeed, my uncle's dreadest pet.
And you, the least of thy thin pantheon. (46)
And also last, if perfect memory serves.
For did I not destroy your brother-gods?
Did not I smash your heavens with my tail,
A tail so long that now tis tightly-wound,
Much like a spiral galaxy, or else
This small dark universe could not contain,
Nor bear behold, its sheer magnificence?
Did not great Narok break thy father's bones
With but a careless flick of my talon?
Did not an idle stifled sneeze suffice
To end the withered whore that gave you suck?
Forgive me please, young god, for I am old,
More than a thousand universes old.
Perhaps my memory falters now. Do tell.
No, Dragon-King, all that did come to pass.
Besides my uncle, Red Hart is the last.
My mortal host has often heard it said
That grief will heal with Time. It may be true.
If so, a billion times fifteen small years
Is not yet Time enough to lessen mine,
For grief and rage are both beyond measure.
And yet, one thing I think you did forget,
One small but vital fact that did escape
E'en Narok's perfect, endless memory.
'Twas t' least and last that did the dragon smite.
I proved thy better then, and shall this night!
[Commences a battle of indescribable scope; exeunt in dazzling, blinding light.]
ACT VI, SCENE I. The Lighthouse.
[Enter BLUE BOXER, dancing jubilantly. Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE.]
Either you have good news, or we're under attack by the Living Tarantella.
BLUE BOXER [he stops dancing]
Is that a thing?
Folk dancing, my only weakness. Good news?
Um, well, we spotted Awides around Jupiter, and with his speed and depending on which theory we're working from, he'll be in range to kill everything on Earth at some point in the next twelve to sixteen hours.
That's dancing news over in the Daylighters?
I haven't got to that part yet. We're now able to trace his trajectory. And thanks to preliminary analysis of the god-in-the-box, we're able to identify the energy signature of this Octonion.
Who died, but left a trail as the Plus-One high-tailed it this way. That trail and the path Awides is following, perfect match. Ergo, he's following the god-in-the-box.
I'm still failing to see how this news is even remotely boogie-worthy.
We can use the box to lure him away from Earth. Or rather, Red Hart can, whenever he comes back.
Well, let's just hope it's in the next few hours.
ACT VI, SCENE II. Deep Space. (47)
[Enter, drifting through space, battered and unconscious, RED HART. Exit RED HART.]
ACT VI, SCENE III. Outside the Dark Sleep.
I see the battle's done, and dragon's won.
Twin hearts still beat, but weakly. All's now lost.
Why did you free the beast, Sedenion?
It made such sense then. Now I see the cost,
And wonder what and why I thought it right.
But how was I to know the prince would fall?
I put my trust in him and all his might.
I tried to help. I thought. I've doomed us all.
My father thought he helped when moon he woke.
Oh, meaning well means naught for all mean well.
E'en Never-Lord did "noble" ends invoke.
At least he's dead, for near as I can tell,
I still for reasons strange dark powers hold.
I thought to use them well but was too bold. (48)
[Enter an aspect of NAROK.]
I greet thee, Never-Lord. My task's near done.
For though thy nephew lives, he won't ere long.
Thy greeting I return, great dragon-king.
I see my brother's son did damage you.
A scratch, and only that. The whelp got worse.
E'en Narok needs must rest and lick his wounds.
I then shall speed to finish off the prince.
Then rest and lick you here, at my Dark Sleep.
I bid you welcome, Narok. Be my guest.
O, what a funny little god you are!
As if thy citadel can contain me
When this whole tiny universe does bulge
And warp around my sheer magnificence.
Though I admire thy elegant new form.
Tis small, so small my eyes must squint to see,
The smallest one you've ever wormed inside.
And yet so full of power. Sixteen planes?
He thinks the Never-Lord's inside me now.
What doth you mumble now?
Thy pardon, king.
Yes, sixteen dimensions this puppet pulls.
Through them he speaks the tongue of creation.
Such wonders had we not in time ere time.
And yet I smell a power greater still.
No; none be better than Sedenion.
It stinks of eight.
I know its name. But eight
Is half of sixteen, half of power mine.
Tis true, as far as gods and Naturals go. (49)
But Never-Lord is negation, inverse.
You divide Life, and splintered fractions make.
While three be more than two, it yet is true
That third is less than half, and truer still,
One-eighth is more than sixteen under one.
In Never's hands is sixteen half of eight.
And now, I find to finish nephew thine.
He'd speak it true, if I was Never-Lord.
But though I'm not, I would be stronger still
If I did wield my father's powers eight.
Much more than match for Narok Dragon-King,
Who did himself lay low the Forest Prince.
So, more than Hart I'd be. And more than moon.
Perhaps the equal to the coming flood!
Yes! Yes! The ancients speak of "last true hope"
Behind the seven seals. I thought it him;
I thought Red Hart the hero that we need.
But when I broke the sacred seals, somehow
I gained domain o'er powers dark and bleak.
And now I see the reason! Not to aid
The prince, but him surpass. To save us all.
'Twas not Red Hart I freed, nor Never-Lord,
But great Sedenion, our last true hope!
Once armed with powers sixteen, dark, and eight
This universe I'll save, decreed by fate! (50)
[Exit SEDENION in a flash of light. A moment later, he returns as he went.]
I thought to go to Earth to nimbly pluck
>From them my father's stolen force of eight.
But Earth rebuffed my leap. I sense Red Hart,
Before he went to meet the dragon-king,
Did shield that world from Never-Lord's dread hate.
I'm not the one he thinks, but neither Shades
Nor great Sedenion can touch the Earth,
Nor grasp by godly hands the prize I need.
But yet I see a way, for possible
Is anything in dreams. And so, to sleep.
[SEDENION sleeps. From his body comes forth a ghostly glimpse of NOX, who exits in flight.]
ACT VI, SCENE IV. The Lighthouse, infirmary.
[VAN, alone, asleep. Enter, descending, a vision of NOX, awakening VAN.]
Wowza. Who're you?
I am the night itself, your stars and dreams,
Your dream of stars. I'm she who nicks and knocks. (52)
You are gorgeous. Did I just say that out loud? I'm sorry. I'm actually pretty super-hetero, absolute zero on Kinsey, but looking at you, I might be nudging up to a two or a three. Or, hell, a six. But damn. You... you're... please... let me touch you. I don't know why I'm acting like this. (53)
Because I'm what you want. I'm boundless space.
The one and only place where you are free.
Where you are you. I am the thing you lost.
I'd give anything for it. To be in space again. To be myself again. To choose who I am.
Then bring to Nox the box that holds the eight.
But where are you?
A place that's called Dark Sleep. But touch the box,
And think of Nox, and 'cross all space you'll leap.
But give me that, and I'll return the stars.
But they need it, don't they? To save the world from Awides? I heard them. They said they were going to use it... somehow...
I see a way the box might save their Earth.
The only way the deathless moon might die.
It shall in turn put box beyond your reach.
And thus deny thyself my tender touch.
Which do you want the more, their lives or yours? (54)
[Exit NOX, ascending. Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE.]
Van, are you alright? I heard you shouting...
Yeah, super-lady, I'm fine. Just, just had a dream.
Okay. Just wanted to check up on you.
How about you? How goes saving the world?
So far, not so good, but that's usually the way. Let me know if you need anything.
Thanks, but I can take care of myself.
[Exit JULIE ANN JUSTICE.]
I know what I need.
ACT VII, SCENE I. Deep space.
[Enter, drifting unconscious through space and protected by a red aura, MATT SHARP. Enter a spaceship, which draws him inside with a beam. Exeunt.]
ACT VII, SCENE II. Within the ship.
[Enter, descending, MATT SHARP. He is suspended in air by a beam. Enter JAMY LO.]
JAMY [dictating] (55)
Subject found floating outside the ruins of the Rowdar system. Subject appears to be alive but unconscious, physiognomy and radiation non-native to this system. Miraculously, the radiation appeared to be keeping the subject alive in space. Scanning indicates... no. No. It's impossible. But yes. Preliminary scanning indicates that the subject is a carbon-based life form. Through pure dumb luck, I may have earned my place in the history of science. ... That's more than a little disappointing, but I won't be picky. Subject appears to be regaining consciousness.
I can understand what you're saying. But you're not speaking English, are you?
And you're not speaking Car-lo-lox-gar-car.
Some kind of universal translator?
Not on my end. Thought it'd be on yours. I'm Jamy Lo, scientist second-class from the planet Lo-lox-gar.
Matt Sharp. From the planet Earth.
That's not in the Rowdar system?
Not as far as I'm aware. Is that where we are?
That's where it was. Everything's dead now. See those asteroids? A few hours ago, that was the planet Rowdar. Only planet that supported life, so I guess they got to name the system after themselves. (56)
That's... hard to explain. Do you have geological plates on your world?
There's worlds that don't?
Have to check. There are apparently worlds where life is based on carbon instead of silicone. These plates, do they rub against each other, release seismic energy?
Our folks call them earthquakes.
So imagine an earthquake, but in space. Somewhere in this system, there was a tremendous release of immeasurable energy. That's the epicenter. And all through the system, there were after-shocks. One destroyed the planet Rowdar, most of the other planets. And destabilized their star.
That don't sound good.
No, it does not. It's going to collapse on itself soon.
Like a black hole, and it sucks everything in?
Exactly like a black hole. A single point in space of infinite mass. Gravity so dense that not even light can escape.
Rowdar. How many people were there?
People? You mean, how many organisms? (57)
I don't know. Nine million different species. Each species, most of them numbered in the billions or trillions.
And they're all dead. Just from an after-shock.
I think I know what caused it. There was a fight. There was this big dragon, name of Narok. Mean old thing. Ancient. Older than the universe a dozen times over. Don't ask me how. I'm out of my depth on that one. And fighting it, there was this other guy, it was me, sort of. I have some kind of space-god hero-thing living inside of me, takes over my body when he needs to fight something. He's old, too. It's like a, a symbiosis.
I see it now. That's what kept you alive out there. It's also... I'm not an expert on carbon-based life-forms, being that I just discovered them, so I guess I actually am kind of an expert, but: it looks like it's also tearing your body apart.
Takes a whammy out of me after, yeah.
It's like a parasite. It's killing you.
All those things that were alive, this whole system, and it just gets snuffed out. Not even on purpose. Like stepping on ants. Though I guess everything is like ants to something like him.
I don't even know what ants are. But you sound scared, Matt Sharp.
We got a saying on Earth. Proverb, I guess. About the cure that's worse than the disease. There's a lot of stuff going down, and the universe is sick, maybe gonna end, big cosmic stuff, and so that's why this guy got woke up, to fix it all. But if that's the cure... I'm a soldier. Part of me hopes that you don't know what that word means, that you come from someplace where there's no war. But I can see from your expression that you know it all too well. I did fighting, and there would be collateral. That's where innocent people who aren't fighting in the war get hurt, get killed. And you have to accept that that's going to happen, because that's war. Doesn't mean it sat well with me when it happened. It didn't. I ain't saying I felt shame, because I never did anything I was ashamed of. Never meant it to happen. But there are lives that I took that shouldn't have been took, and I carry that with me. I always will. And it weighs heavy on a man. But this... I don't know how a man can carry this. It's too much. Too big. And knowing that he can do this, just do this in passing... well, maybe there's a reason he's been asleep for fifteen billion years. Maybe he should never have woke up. (58)
I can't pretend I have answers to that. I can see that you need medical treatment from someone familiar with your biology. I don't suppose you know the standard galactic coordinates for this Earth?
Can't say that I do. We're the third planet from our sun. That's what we call our star. Blue world. Lots of water. Only one that supports life, far as we know.
That describes most life-supporting planets and most systems. Do you have names for your other planets?
I figure since I'm getting equivalents translated, if there's one we may have heard of, you'll hear your name for it and I'll hear mine.
Worth a shot. Uh, there's a big one with a red spot, Jupiter. One of 'em has rings, that's Saturn. Planets get a little smaller as they get closer to the Earth. Mars is red. Venus is... I'm not sure what color Venus is, actually...
Venus. Say that again. To be sure. (59)
That's what I thought you said.
Why? Is Venus significant?
Just stories. Legends. Nothing that bears repeating. But: single star system, blue planet, neighbor of Venus. We can check it out, and if it's wrong, you'll let me know.
Won't that take a while?
Um, about ten minutes, I think.
Maybe twelve. My rip-drive is an older model.
Creates a tiny pocket universe with two openings, one here and one where we're going. You don't have those where you're from?
Not so much.
[Exeunt via a pocket universe.]
ACT VII, SCENE III. The Lighthouse.
[An alarum sounds. Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE and BLUE BOXER.]
It's coming from in orbit. Open hailing frequency.
Ooh, like Star Trek.
[On a large screen appears an image of JAMY.]
I am Jamy Lo of Lo-lox-gar, seeking Julie Ann Justice.
I am she. Call me Julie Ann.
Jamy. I was given your number by Matt Sharp, who I picked up in the Rowdar system. Permission to beam down?
Like Star Trek!
"Make it so!"
You're such a dork.
[Enter via teleportation JAMY and MATT SHARP, the latter vomiting.]
You don't look so hot, Matt.
It's the parasite.
The Red Hart. I think it's killing him. I don't know your biology...
...It might be. Matt, you said something before. He did. About the body wearing thin. I'm not sure how much longer you can take it. I'm sorry.
I understand your predicament, Mr. Sharp, and I'm sorry for it, and I'm sorry for what I'm about to say. But Awides is coming. He'll be here in an hour and some change. We have a plan. Boxer?
More of a holding action than a solution, unfortunately. We think the death-moon is following the energy trail left by Octonion, by the god-box. If the Red Hart can take Octonion's essence, and lead Awides off somewhere... and then... well, like I said, we only got that far. But that saves the Earth, buys us some time to figure out a way to deal with him. And we need that time. We need Red Hart.
I wish I could say I'm not going to ask you to put yourself in danger, especially when we don't have a final solution yet, but...
It's not the dying I'm afraid of. When I was out there, I, he... I...
A star system was destroyed in his battle with Narok.
I'm just telling you what he told me.
A whole system...?
I was there. All the planets gone. The star itself should be collapsing any minute now.
Collapsing, like black hole collapsing?
There's a black hole, and you know where it is? Like the coordinates?
Yes. It's just on the other end of the pocket universe I created to get here.
Not the loss of life. That's terrible, of course. But a black hole? An actual black hole, and we know exactly where it is, and we could take the god-box and lead Awides to it? Death-moon gets sucked in, crushed by infinite gravity; we actually solve the problem. But I think we would need Red Hart to lead him there. (60)
Can't you just shove this god-box through my pocket universe? When he senses it in the Rowdar system, he'll turn around.
Maybe; maybe not. I think he's actually following the trail itself. So if there's not a new trail to follow, he might just keep heading towards Earth anyway.
Besides, even if he is homing in on the actual box, there's the chance he'll just make a bee-line for it. Then you have worlds getting wiped out left and right anyway. But if Red Hart can leave him a deliberate trail, away from any planets with life on it...
Like he did with Rowdar? There has to be another way.
I'm sorry, Matt, I really am, but we're running out of time.
There's always another way. Jamy, your pocket universe. Could a giant moon fit through it?
Not unless you had a way to increase the power to my rip-drive a thousand-fold.
I think we might. If the god-in-the-box is as powerful as we think, we could use it to jack up your rip-drive and send Awides into the black hole.
I think I like the way you think, carbon-based life-form.
That's the god-box! Someone's broken in!
ACT VII, SCENE IV. The Lighthouse, god-box room.
[Enter JULIE ANN JUSTICE, BLUE BOXER, MATT SHARP, and JAMY; they find VAN in the room.]
What are you doing in here?
I'm sorry. But I got to do what's best for me.
Van? Don't touch that...!
Take me to the Dark Sleep. To Nox.
[VAN and the glowing god-box exit in a flash of light.]
MATT [crackling with cosmic power]
The Dark Sleep! Castle of my uncle dread.
He's broadcasting the coordinates with his cosmic power!
MATT [crackling with cosmic power]
The evil-heart that beats in time 'gainst good.
The Never-Lord! So now this mortal flesh...
I won't let you out again! I can't! I won't let you!
[MATT whirls, and is thrown against the wall by the cosmic struggle. He goes limp.]
He's alive, but just barely. I don't think Red Hart is used to his host fighting back. Good space-god can't help us, bad space-god has the what's-it. Now we have no way to stop the death-moon that's going to be here in, what, an hour?
So we get it back. You said you had the coordinates?
Can you get me there?
Shouldn't be a problem. I'll go get the rip-drive ready.
"Shouldn't be a problem?" We're, what, going to go fight an evil god?
Yes, "we" are, but "we" is me and mine, not you and yours. There's a reason why we're the Seven Wonders, and the Daylighters are, you know, MySpace for super-heroes.
MySpace? Oh, c'mon, we're at least LinkedIn. So what are we supposed to do while you're going on this obvious suicide mission?
"There's always another way." You're supposed to be good at finding them.
"Supposed to be"?
So find one.
ACT VIII, SCENE I. Within the Dark Sleep.
[Enter VAN in a flash of light, carrying the god-in-the-box.]
So teleportation is something I'm never doing again. I'm sorry, stomach. This is the worst thing I've ever done to you. Much worse than that time we ate Flying Jacob.
[Enter SEDENION in a flash of darkness.]
I greet thee, Vanessa of Morrison,
And welcome you most warmly to Dark Sleep.
I greet you right back there, guy.
I'm not a mortal man of blood and flesh;
For I'm of sacred ageless god-stuff made,
As like the box you clutch against thy breasts.
Eyes are up here, buddy. And this is for Nox. She around? We had a deal.
Yes, Nox is comely Queen of Night and Dark,
Her beauty so immense it frightens gods.
Her supple breasts gave suck to Sleep and Death.
At dawn of dawns, she birthed the very stars.
The mother of the Fates, of dooms decreed,
Of purest love and perfect, perfect hate.
All gods are but a single drop of dew,
While she is raging storm and wind-tossed sea.
And yet the Never-Lord did bend her knee,
For 'gainst his evil will, none can be free.
That's fascinating. Now where is she?
She's not e'en she, but he: but his, now mine.
Great Nox reduced to toy, a mere catspaw.
But she was so beautiful. So... perfect and wild.
Tis said that something broke in time ere time; (61)
This universe is wrong, and never-meant.
His heinous crime did birth a thousand dooms.
Are... are you him? The Never-Lord?
No; uncle, like my father, was destroyed.
But like Octonion, the power lives,
And can be used to save us all from doom.
Oh! You're Sedenion; his son.
I was, and now am more, and more will be.
I now do rule the Never-Lord's domain,
And evil powers use for godly good.
The Night Queen's heart does now belong to me,
And she I sent to you, to Earth, in dreams.
The box you stole, in truth you stole for me.
No, I stole it for myself. For what I want.
Of course; I shall a vessel fashion now.
[Appears a space ship.]
Y'know, it's not just the stars, or a ship. It's what they represent. You can understand that, right? You talk in meter, so you can grasp a metaphor, I think. It's choosing who I am. It's being free. That's what the stars are. What the night is. What I wanted when I wanted Nox. When I stole the box she asked for.
And this is what I give you now, my child.
Give it to Nox. Set her free, Sedenion. You said it yourself; the universe is wrong. Set her free. Make it right.
I said that it was said, not that it was.
Such whispers said Red Hart was last true hope.
In truth 'twas mine own coming was foretold.
Even so. Even if things would still be all screwed up and hopeless, and we didn't gain a thing by it. It's still wrong what was done to her. Please. You have to let her free.
Do not forget your place, woman of Earth.
Tis most unwise to make demands of gods.
VAN [revealing her pistol]
I'm an atheist. (62)
You think your weapon's match for me and mine?
It worked okay on your old man. That's right. I'm the one that killed him. And I figure you're half the mucky-muck he was.
I am his double. Give me his box.
Let her go. I'll give you the box, but first you let her go. Why won't you let her go?
I've need of Nox and box. But not of you.
What-- what's going on?
The Never-Lord made Night Queen's will his own.
His darkest power is the theft of thought.
The only one I dared not use. Till now.
[VAN becomes his thrall. She hands him the box. SEDENION moves his arm, and VAN's arm moves; in this fashion, her arm brings the pistol against her head.]
Please don't. (63)
[SEDENION waves his hand dismissively. VAN pulls the trigger and her head explodes, blood splattering on the wall. Her body collapses limply to the floor.]
The darkest power is the theft of thought.
The only one I dared not use, till now.
For life without free thought is not true life,
But endless death. It was a kindness, child.
I took your soul, and then, took pity, Van.
True life is ever violent, shifting, wild,
And needs must end. And hence: all pain, all strife.
And hence: the circling dooms that multiply,
And speed our universe to its death.
But now and only now I see the truth:
Each doom was not ordained, a thing of fate,
But born from choice, from free and foolish thought.
My father thought and chose to free the moon
To pit against the flood. And even that,
The sea of gods, did break at last the dam
That held it back for countless timeless time,
Because some feverish fools on Earth did choose
To set the Dyzen'thari upon it.
Because they had free will, and freely chose
To kill their fellow men. When blood is spilt,
Tis not the deathless dark, but living things,
Each acting to its reasons, needs, and wants,
And none of them do need or want the same.
>From that, all death, all pain, all war, all dooms.
[Enter the SEVEN WONDERS, prepared for battle. SEDENION sets aside the box, waves his hand, and all become his SHADES.]
The darkest power is the theft of thought.
The only one I dared not use, till now,
For now and only now I see the truth:
Free thought is death. E'en once I've stemmed the flood,
And caged the dragon-king, and killed the moon,
New dooms and fresher hells will be unleashed
To take their place, so long as there is choice.
This cancer must be taken out, removed.
I'll make each soul and star a pinch of sand,
And I, the desert vast and red like blood,
Each thought, my thought alone; each hand, my hand!
I'll make the chorus sing my single chord.
To save us all, I'll be the Never-Lord! (64)
[Exeunt SEDENION, in flight, attended by the SHADES of the SEVEN WONDERS. A moment later, Van's blood stain on the wall becomes a blood-red aspect of NOX.]
Wowza! ...Did I just say "Wowza"? Oh, joy. I got your voice and your blood. I hardly sound reverent. And reverence you deserve, cutie-pie. Because with your life you bought me my freedom, if only for a couple of breaths. As you challenged him, the Never-Lord tightened his grip around me, and a small sliver of myself-- the tiniest droplet-- spilled out between his fingers and hid in your heart. Just the tiniest bit-- hardly a goddess, really, and certainly not the Mother of Mothers. But enough, I think, to make a difference. Certainly enough to make a quick trip to Earth. You may have just saved the universe, kiddo. I know you'd rather be alive and in the stars, but them's the breaks. (65)
[Exit NOX. The god-in-the-box, left behind by Sedenion, begins to stir, tendrils of Eight Power flowing into VAN's body, and into the ship. There is a flash, and all three-- corpse, box, and ship-- disappear.] (66)
ACT VIII, SCENE II. The Lighthouse.
[Appears NOX. Enter a frantic BLUE BOXER and JAMY LO; they do not see her.]
We've lost contact with the Wonders. We have to assume the god-in-the-box is lost, too. Dammit. I still think that black hole is our best chance. So elegant!
How much time do we have left?
Ten minutes. Plenty of time to figure it out.
But your last six plans have failed.
Seven's the magic number.
[Exeunt JAMY LO and BLUE BOXER.]
Beautiful critters, earthlings. They got that little something extra. And with a little luck, and a little help, that little something might just be enough. Ah, here's the one I seek!
[Exit NOX to the infirmary.]
ACT VIII, SCENE III. The Lighthouse, Infirmary.
[Enter NOX. MATT SHARP awakes.]
Oh, I must be dreaming.
A little bit, yeah. Why?
You're beautiful. Most beautiful girl I've ever seen.
Thank you very muchly. You can flirt with me later, though. You've got a universe to save.
Oh, you're one of them, then. I figured as such. You don't talk like one of them, though.
Yeah, well. No time, seriously: no time. Universe! Save! You!
I can't do it, lady.
Can't, or won't?
...Won't. Do you know what he did? What happened to Rowdar?
Yes. And it was terrible. That's why they locked him up, Matthew. Him and his uncle, when the universe began. Both of them too dangerous for this cosmos. The uncle, who would control every heart. Who was living death. And his nephew, who was life itself, wild and free, too wild and too free. Pure raw and naked power, untamed, uncontrolled.
And you want me to let him free?
For all his faults, the Forest Prince knows what he is and what he was. He's had fifteen billion years to think about it, and to think about what he needed. So did his uncle. The Never-Lord chose a god. Because gods think themselves better than men and women, and will do things, will stomach things, that you won't. And the Red Hart knew that was exactly what he needed. So he chose Earth. He chose you, because you can keep him in check. (67)
Yeah, that worked out real great for Rowdar.
I didn't say you did. I said you can. Don't let him take over your body. You take over his. Make his power your own. And do it in the next three minutes. Because the Earth needs you. The universe needs you. Not the god born of stars and dust, but the hero, born of woman.
[He is transformed into RED HART.]
RED HART [crackling with cosmic power]
But... I'm still me! I even sound like me. None of that cosmic stuff!
Told you, dummy.
What's going on?
The Never-Lord has found me, and is snuffing out this little stray bit of Nox. Van didn't buy me much time...
Van? She's the one that took the box! That left us all to die! What's she have to do with you...?
Kindly, Matt. Treat her kindly...
Alright, space-god. We've got maybe two minutes left. Let's make 'em count.
ACT IX, SCENE I. The Lighthouse.
[BLUE BOXER and JAMY LO, in despair.]
Well, if they're going to show up with the god-in-the-box, now would be the time for it. You better go. It's not your planet that's about to get massacred.
Are you kidding? "Hey guys, I just discovered carbon-based life, but then a giant moon came by and killed them all, so I have no way to prove it so I'm probably lying." Right. I'm not giving you up so... so... easily...
What is it?
My rip-drive is being flooded with power!
[Enter RED HART.]
Sort of, sure. How much power do you folks need?
JAMY [typing frantically]
Give it all you've got! It's working!
ACT IX, SCENE II. The Solar System.
Fish! Mammals! Reptiles! Birds! Bacteria!
Plants! Scrumptious smorgasbord, served piping hot!
[A hole opens in time and space. Exit AWIDES, unwillingly, through the pocket universe.]
ACT IX, SCENE III. The Lighthouse.
Now close this end of the pocket! Otherwise the whole solar system's going to get sucked in by the black hole!
ACT IX, SCENE IV. Rowdar system.
[AWIDES is sucked into the black hole and dies, screaming.] (68)
ACT IX, SCENE V. The Lighthouse.
He's gone. And so is my pocket universe; the black hole caused it to collapse.
If he's gone... then what am I detecting now?
RED HART [antlers aglow]
Are you sure?
Sure as I am of anything these days. He's come to finish the job, I think. I have to lead him away from our system. From any system that has life.
Could you lead him to Rowdar?
No, the black hole will suck me in but won't do anything to him.
That's not possible; nothing can escape a black hole.
The dragon's heart is itself a black hole.
Is that even a thing?
Apparently. I don't know how I know that, but I do.
[He exits in cosmic light.]
ACT IX, SCENE VI. The solar system.
[Enter, and then exit, flying in a straight line past our field of vision, RED HART. In the same fashion, enter and then exit NAROK in pursuit, the dragon's body unfathomably long and massive.]
ACT IX, SCENE VII. Deep Space.
[Enter SEDENION, attended by the shades of the SEVEN WONDERS.]
The battle's been renewed! The nephew lives,
And Dragon-King gives chase to snuff him out.
I would have bent my dark and borrowed arts
To save him once before. But now I know
The hero's false, for I alone am truth.
I shall then leave the dragon to his work.
But soft! I can sense their trajectory.
The prince doth lead the scaly king to death.
I've need of Narok Dragon-King, and thus
I shall not suffer him to die this day.
To intervene I fly without delay!
ACT IX, SCENE VIII. Elsewhere in Deep Space.
[A flash of light and the space-robot MONAD is born.]
I am created! I am new! And yet, made of things old, and opposite! Dark magicks, holy numbers, born of gods and of woman. But I'm tied to none of them. I'm free at last to soar the stars, the only thing to ever be born perfectly free. Alone. Singular. Monad!
[MONAD reels, suddenly overtaken by total cosmic awareness: enter VISIONS of RED HART, NAROK, SEDENION, and the SEVEN WONDERS.]
Though he cannot know it, the Forest Prince leads the dragon to the Impossible Sun: the one place Narok can be destroyed. But if the Never-Lord intercepts them before they reach their destination, then the Red Hart shall surely die and evil shall rule this universe.
[The visions: SEDENION enthralls NAROK, and together they destroy RED HART. The visions exeunt.]
But if the uncle could be delayed long enough for the nephew to slay the dragon-- some seventy seconds by Monad's count-- the Forest Prince may triumph over both. I could perhaps delay the Never-Lord for that long. But why should I? I am, as I said, free-- the only free thing, apart from all existence. If this universe were to end, I can easily slip away to another. And being a machine, I am immune to the Never-Lord's theft of thought. I would still be the only free thing if I let things take their course. The other way is fraught with peril, and may end both my true, perfect freedom and my life. It's strange-- I owe the universe nothing. Born unfettered, yet I gladly take on these chains.
ACT IX, SCENE IX. Near the Impossible Sun.
[Blackness. Enter RED HART; by the light of his antlers, we see a completely black star, the Impossible Sun.]
Boxer! Can you hear me?
[Appears a projection of BLUE BOXER.]
Is this telepathy? I should warn you, I'm allergic to telepathy. Did you beat the dragon?
No, but he's approaching fast. I've led him somewhere, I guess, and there's no life around, but I don't understand what it is I'm looking at. First rule is to know your terrain. You know science stuff, right?
I am so science. Describe it to me.
It's a star, I think. But tiny, like the Earth.
A dwarf star, probably. Is the light red or white?
It's black. It's not giving off any light. Or heat.
...A black dwarf star. But those don't exist yet.
Well, I'm looking at one.
But you don't understand. It would take something like a sextillion years for a white dwarf to become a black one. That's like seventy billion times older than the universe. Nothing can be older than the universe.
Red Hart is. And so is Narok. Speaking of...!
[Enter NAROK in a roar of stellar flame. RED HART's aura goes up in time to defend himself. Exeunt, towards the Impossible Sun, in blinding cosmic battle.]
ACT IX, SCENE X. Deep Space.
[Enter SEDENION and his entourage.]
Now mark, you shades: we near the paradox,
The center of this very universe.
You'll go no nearer!
[She fires her laser. SEDENION dodges with ease.]
I know you not, except that you're a fool,
And that you too shall bend to my dark will.
But you resist! How? How?! Impossible!
Less talk, please, and more dying.
Oh, that can be arranged! Now have at you!
[Battle is joined, SEDENION and his SHADES against MONAD. Exeunt in dazzling combat.]
ACT IX, SCENE XI. The Impossible Sun.
[RED HART battles NAROK near the Impossible Sun.]
NAROK [as they fight]
You're not the same, oh haughty Forest Prince!
For now the mewling mortal's in control!
And of what use is he against my might?
I am surpassing ancient, undestroyed,
And indestructible! E'en at the height
Of power, you could only bind me up.
For nothing in this universe of time
Can stop a dragon's timeless black-hole heart.
What hope has man, where gods have fell and failed?
Oh, shut up already.
[The desperate battle intensifies, and RED HART is flung into the IMPOSSIBLE SUN, his red light disappearing. All becomes black, save for the eyes of NAROK.]
ACT IX, SCENE XII. Deep Space.
[Enter, drifting through space, MONAD's body. Exit.]
ACT IX, SCENE XIII. Nearing the Impossible Sun.
[The tip of NAROK'S tail is faintly visible. Enter SEDENION and his seven SHADES.]
It seems we hurried-worried quite in vain.
The legends said that when the black dwarf burns,
At last will dragon die. But it's still cold,
And only legend. Legends lie, my sweets.
For legends sang of twin-hearts hero. ...What!
[A bright, blinding red light.]
ACT IX, SCENE XIV. The Impossible Sun.
[The Impossible Sun is ignited, burning red and then whiter than white. NAROK screams, his scales bursting apart like glass. Emerging from the Impossible Sun is RED HART, now glowing perfect-white. Appears NOX, not an aspect, but the ancient mother-goddess herself, bigger even than NAROK, and gigantic in her glory.] (70)
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel!
[Exit NOX. NAROK is killed, his body becoming a thousand worlds teeming with life. The black hole he left behind is present, but the new worlds and their fierce sun are impervious to its perfect gravity as black hole and Impossible Sun circle around each other, and the worlds around them. In a twinkling of an eye, life evolves, each world builds up civilizations, erects monuments and creates art, ventures into space, and forms alliances.]
Man, this is kind of nuts.
[Enter SEDENION and his SHADES.]
That sun can never burn. Impossible!
I guess impossible's in season, baby.
And nothing can the black-hole heart resist!
Like I just said. So, I guess you're this Never-Lord people are always on about.
I am the last true hope to save us all.
To control us all, more-like.
It comes to mean the same. You can't see that.
The Never-Lord did seek to conquer life.
I want no kingdom, only to protect
This universe. I know I do dark deeds;
Perhaps this safety's price shall be my soul.
Then sneer and call me villain, if you like,
But know that there is not another way.
There's always another way. Maybe we can find it. Together. If you want to do good, let's do good. Let's save the universe. There's a great bunch of people on Earth...
What use are men? They're pawns in games of gods.
You are a fool, and like unto a child.
So cling to smug small morality. Cling!
And let me do the things needs must be done.
I'm afraid I can't let you do that.
And how do you propose to stop me then?
The powers dark protect me from thy wroth,
As thine do render mine like harmless rain.
[SEDENION fires a blast at RED HART; it fizzles. RED HART fires a blast at SEDENION; it fizzles.]
They were e'er locked in endless proxy war.
We'd be the same, and we'd be same as flood,
And would destroy the universe as quick.
"For evil-heart must beat in time 'gainst good." We're tied together. In perfect balance, and always going to be in conflict.
So stand aside, you tiny man of Earth!
What if we both did? If we both stood aside? Went back to that prison, and locked ourselves up.
And hide away to let the god-sea rage?
I figure somebody will figure it out. Earth's got a bunch of smart folks, and they're wise to it. It ain't all on you or me to solve it.
Oh, but it is on me, and me alone.
And I will not leave this to chance, or men.
Then I guess you haven't left me any choice. Because it seems to me, like we were saying, that we're in perfect balance. And it seems to me also that I can shift this power around. That's what I did with the black dwarf; took a little bit of the Red Hart and put it in there, and there it is, and there it burns. And when that happened, I think a little bit of you got in there too, just a little bit, and with that little bit, a whole lot of Nox got out. So I can put all this power somewhere else, and yours would follow. Am I hot or cold?
And I can call it back, and snuff this Sun,
And thus the planets spinning 'round it now.
You won't do that, because you know that's the only thing stopping that black hole from sucking us all in. So we're at an impasse there. I... excuse me.
[He catches his breath, wheezing.]
I got an awful lot of power, and I think that power could be a force for good in the universe. I know you think the same about yours, and we'll agree to disagree there. But I also think, in both cases, it's too much power in one place. If I were to put that power in another person, so there'd be two of us, two Red Harts, I got a feeling neither of us could take back the other's power without the other letting it happen. Again, am I hot or cold?
So, right on the money. Of course, I wouldn't want two Never-Lords, or two Red Harts, for that matter. Still too dangerous, especially in your case. But what if it was everybody?
You speak in riddles, Matthew: everybody?
Every living thing in the universe. Every... single... one. Just a little spark of me, barely there, and a little spark of you, in every living thing.
What would keep you alive in cold, dark space?
Not a blessed thing.
The Forest Prince is proud, too proud to die.
He'd never let you spread his self so thin.
He wouldn't. And neither would you, I wager. But there's something else, something which might not be readily apparent. Kinda saved the best for last. This place we're at, this star, this impossible sun, it really is impossible, isn't it? At least seventy billion times older than the universe, which is where it is. Which means that time works differently here. That much is obvious.
[As if in response, the flourishing, madly-shifting civilized worlds circling around them ramp up their progress exponentially.]
Yet time still drags as you doth prattle on.
There's a reason for that, and that's so you didn't catch on to what I was doing until it was too late. And so the Red Hart didn't catch on, either, because you're right, he would have put up a fight if he had. He's too proud to die, and too important. But me, I'm just a man, and a man's not afraid to die, especially if he's doing it to give life to someone else.
[Behold a MEMORY of MATT SHARP scattering ashes in the woods.]
Well, Ryan, if you can see me: you gave me life, and this is what I did with it.
I've dispersed my power, and yours, to every living thing, since the beginning of the universe. Been doing it all along. Every living thing, right now, has a little bit of me, and a little bit of you. Good and evil. Free will and slavery. Every living thing always has, starting now. And they get to choose which they want. And I think you know what that choice is going to be.
[The SEVEN WONDERS are freed from their thralldom.]
Last bit of juice ought to get you folks home.
[Exit the SEVEN WONDERS, teleported. The RED HART is transformed into MATT SHARP. He catches fire from the nearness of the Impossible Sun, and dies.]
I'm no mere man of flesh, but god of--
[Suddenly, the EVIL-HEART of the NEVER-LORD is wrenched from SEDENION's body. It flails, burns, and screams, and dies.]
I was the hero...! (72)
[He dies. The System of the Impossible Sun thrives on.]
ACT IX, SCENE XV. Arlington National Cemetery.
[A service is held for MATT SHARP. It is attended by SOLDIERS, FAMILY MEMBERS, POLITICIANS, and several four-colours, including the DAYLIGHTERS and the SEVEN WONDERS, wearing sober variants of their various costumes. His MOTHER carries a Purple Heart. There is a three-volley salute; exeunt. His marker reads:]
2nd Lt. Matthew Forrest Sharp
July 13, 1986-December 24, 2013
ACT IX, SCENE XVI. A small family plot in Scotland.
[The FAMILY OF VANESSA MORRISON and a few distant friends pay their respects. Among their number, dressed in civvies, is JULIE ANN JUSTICE. Her marker reads:]
Vanessa Brighde Morrison-Jones
May 5, 1972-December 24, 2013
Forgiven, not forgotten
ACT IX, SCENE XVII. Deep Space.
[Enter, drifting, MONAD. She stirs.]
The moon, the dragon, the Never-Lord and nephew are banished. At last the living are free from the influence of gods and monsters. But the dam is still broke, and what has been unleashed cannot be put away. The god-sea rages on. But perhaps the universe shall find a way to stop it. She usually does... when things go agley. (73)
[Exit MONAD, at peace in the stars.]
COPYRIGHT (C) 2014, 2015 TOM RUSSELL.
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