HEAVY OBJECT:Volume10 Epilogue
Disobeying orders, desertion on the battlefield, unauthorized use of and destruction with an issued firearm, and jeopardizing the 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion and the interests of the Legitimacy Kingdom as a whole. Even as a battlefield student, Quenser Barbotage was unable to avoid being thrown in a cell.
“Wow, so I’ve finally gotten thrown behind bars. I wonder if the nasty food can be any worse than those eraser-like rations.”
His solitary confinement cell looked like a dice with five meter sides and the only light was a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Tragically, the only supplies were a portable bathroom and a blanket. The metal door had nothing but a food slot, not even a doorknob. They had most likely removed the knob from his side to prevent the occupant from killing himself by tying the blanket to the knob and his own neck.
Heivia Winchell, his awful friend who had so kindly guided him here, spoke from beyond the steel door.
“You should be thankful you’re at least alive. If you feel like praying to the god of the Faith Organization, I won’t stop you. That’s how much of a miracle this is.”
“Sorry, but I have no intention of saying I was wrong. I clearly did the right thing.”
“How can you possibly say that!?”
“I don’t know if what I did was good or bad, but the results can tell you whether it was wrong or right. Heivia, this result wasn’t due to your effort. If I had handed that POW over to you in that crumbling home, you would have bought a world in flames at the price of a single bullet to the head.”
He received a click of the tongue in response.
The fact that he received no argumentative excuses meant the boy had enough sense remaining to accept the point.
“Go to hell.”
Believing that the other boy was doing the same, Quenser raised his middle finger toward the door. It may have sounded like a strained atmosphere, but this was just right for those awful friends. In fact, it would have been a lot scarier had Heivia tried to see to his every need with an oddly kind voice. He would have assumed he was being executed soon.
Heivia’s footsteps left.
With nothing to do, Quenser opened and closed the food slot and realized the opposite cell’s slot was open too.
He saw Nyarlathotep’s eyes through it.
“Hi, sorry I can’t throw a moving-in party to celebrate our new home. It’s strange that this cell feels like heaven, but I guess that’s what happens after escaping such an extreme environment.”
“You were given a military trial, weren’t you?”
“Yes, it was quite the farce. It only took thirty seconds from beginning to end. Still, that means my job is complete.”
“Did they only read the defendant’s name and then the judgment? Any lawyer that heard about it would probably start crying.”
“And if they had this ready on the beachhead, there was no need to pay the Blue Cross a visit, was there? We should have raised our hands and surrendered from the beginning.”
“Don’t say that! Are you trying to rub salt in all of my scrapes and aching muscles!?”
But with their sanity so fried, it was entirely possible Heivia and the others could have ignored what the Legitimacy Kingdom as a whole wanted and shot the man. Also, they might not have defeated the Miskatonic and instead had their entire base wiped out by that plasma. Solely looking at the conclusion, every twist and turn had been necessary to reach this point.
“Even if it was a farce, it was an official trial. It still has real authority when the judgment paper is officially registered under international law. That means we’ve stopped the destruction of the world just like you wanted.”
“That’s good at least. And if they were going to build a statue of me, I kind of feel like having it melted down and sold as scrap metal.”
“Whatever future awaits you, I bow my head to you. I had to kill Azathoth to take revenge for my wife and son. I still feel no shame about that. But if an unrelated safe country had been reduced to rubble in the process, it would have lowered the purity of my revenge. That would be like laying a shit-covered bouquet next to their graves, so I am truly thankful. As part of my job, I was always deceiving people. Even my family. But this alone is not a lie.”
“Hey…what are you-…?”
“And no matter how much that farce of a trial or the history books are distorted, I was blessed to meet someone I could tell the truth to. So here alone, I will include no lies. You were my hope, so don’t worry yourself over what’s about to happen.”
“Wait a minute! What are you talking about!?”
His question received no answer.
Instead, he heard quiet footsteps. When the cell area’s entrance opened, the usual buzzer did not sound. A horribly unpleasant sweat covered Quenser’s face. Finally, someone appeared within his view from the food slot. They were clearly different from the guards and they were holding a small handgun with a silencer.
“Hello there. Are you an assassin from the hawkish hard-liners? Or are you taking revenge for the intelligence division members thrown into the lava?”
The way Nyarlathotep spoke from the opposite cell made it clear he had predicted this moment.
He received no response.
Who could say where the assassin had gotten it from, but he held out a plain gray card that was obviously not official and the cell door opened with almost amusing ease.
This person in a Legitimacy Kingdom uniform stepped inside the opposite cell.
Quenser did not even have time to yell.
A few muffled gunshots sounded.
And it did not end there.
An intense explosion and tremor shook the Garden Gate megafloat beachhead positioned next to Panama Bay.
“There’s a fire in the cell area! No, calling it an explosion might be more accurate…”
The female operator’s report led Frolaytia to hold her head in her hands.
Noisy footsteps raced by just outside the room.
The explosion must have taken out either the cameras or the wiring because they were receiving no footage from the cell area. A few of the monitors switched from static to some wobbly footage. These images were being transmitted from the small cameras on the soldiers’ helmets.
Heivia was apparently one of those.
Visibility was poor more due to dust than flames, but one of the cells was especially bad. The steel door and even the wall around it had been blown to bits.
“That’s Nyarlathotep’s cell,” said Heivia’s voice as he approached with rifle at the ready. “Oh, no. These fragments…it was blown up from within! Damn, damn, damn! Oh, goddammit!! The inside is covered in red sauce! Who brought an explosive in here!?”
Frolaytia breathed a heavy sigh as she listened.
The thirty second trial had ended the world’s predicament, but she had known what was likely to happen afterwards.
Quenser sighed quietly inside his cell as he listened to the panicked shouts of his friend beyond the slot.
Through that slot, he had seen a truth the others had not.
He knew the face of the true culprit behind this.
It had happened ten minutes before the explosion.
After several muffled gunshots had sounded, a painful silence had fallen. Finally, the steel door had creaked open and Quenser had seen the truth.
He had seen the face of the man in the Legitimacy Kingdom uniform and holding the small handgun with a silencer.
“Yes, sorry. I was planning on accepting my fate, but the assassin was even weaker than I expected. Tell your intelligence division to read people’s hearts, not the data.”
With that, Nyarlathotep had stuck a fuse in the plastic explosive he had pulled from his waist pouch and had tossed it inside the empty cell…no, the cell that now contained someone’s bullet-riddled corpse.
“What are you going to do now?”
“Who knows. But I’ve fulfilled the bare minimum of what was required of me. With the judgment paper containing my testimony, the world can escape disaster. Deciding what to do with the rest of my life is my job.”
“Do you really think you can escape? And I’m not just talking about this beachhead. I’m talking about this entire planet that’s so thoroughly controlled by the four world powers!!”
“Ha ha! How many times do I have to tell you?” Nyarlathotep toyed with the radio used as a detonator. “It doesn’t matter if I’m found out here if I can lose them in the end. That’s why this is my specialty.”
A tremendous explosion had followed.
He had not use his counterfeit master key or handgun to kill Quenser.
Most likely, he had been confident he could escape even if the boy did reveal the truth.
“And that’s what supposedly happened. Being a soldier can’t be easy. They say the clean wars can make for a nice temporary home if you bungle your job in a safe country, but it really is all about running around with a gun in hand.”
This was a small Southern European country floating in the Mediterranean. It was a luxury resort region said to be a stepping stone toward a conflict between the Legitimacy Kingdom and Faith Organization. A young woman spoke in a bar there, wearing clothing that exposed her shoulders and midriff even though it was only April.
No matter how advanced the firewalls or security systems were, there was no stopping drunk officers from talking as they begged to sleep with some topless women at a luxury resort. This had been a paradise for spies for nearly a century, but the careless fools always showed up.
The world had been fairly shaken up by the news that the defendant had been blown up shortly after a questionable trial, but once the media realized the masses were not all that interested, they had switched to other topics.
A man sitting in one of the counter’s stools poured just a bit of whisky into his glass, watered it down quite a lot, and squeezed some lemon into it. He was shamelessly taking the chicken’s way out.
After placing some ham he had not ordered on the counter, the young woman grabbed a piece for herself and spoke up in exasperation.
“If you’re afraid of getting drunk, why even go to a bar?”
“It’s a sort of ritual. A way of building my resolve, I suppose. I had finished a big job and thought my life was over, but it turned out it wasn’t. I’m thinking about what to do with the rest of my life.”
“Drinking when you’re worried is a good way to become an alcoholic. Drinking because you enjoy it and drinking to keep your worries away are two very different things.”
“Don’t worry. I said it was to build my resolve, didn’t I? I only have to do it once.”
“Oh? You said something about a big job, so are you changing careers?”
“Well, in a way. That job used some skills I would prefer not to use if I can avoid it.”
He spoke vaguely and may have been thinking back on something as he did so. This young woman was used to speaking with drunks, so this was not unusual for her.
“My life was supposed to end back there, but I felt some lingering regret when I saw that boy.”
“Eh!? You’re into boys, old man!?”
“No. …It made me want a kid again. Although it’s not all that noble a desire since it’s only because the memories of my previous wife and son are fading away.”
“Ha ha!! What’s wrong with that? You can redo your life as many times as it takes. Life is long, so god was probably doing you a favor when you broke up with your wife. Getting a clean start and wrapping your arms around a new wife would probably be a good idea.”
The man smiled a little and licked at the watered-down whisky before saying more.
“This is a nice place. I like how it has a way of building a foundation for people.”
“Are you really going to stay here for long? The ridiculously high rent is a downside, but if you do what I did and start lodging with a bar and eventually gain enough trust to run the place yourself, you can get a place to live for almost free.”
“I see. That’s some useful information.”
With that said, the man grabbed his glass and drank it down.
He slammed the thick bottom of the glass against the counter and made a suggestion to the surprised young woman.
“By the way, I have a question. Is this bar still accepting new lodgers like when you started out here?”
The man with one thousand faces had walked several different lives with an eerie smile on his face.
Would he throw the entire planet into chaos once more or would he immerse himself in modest happiness?
That was up the world’s sanity.