|The Rise of the Republic
Author: Rayless Night PM
In theory, life should have finally settled down for Lord Zetta. Theories are nice things to have, aren't they? Fact: demon Overlords always have their enemies.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Angst - Chapters: 9 - Words: 22,850 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 04-19-06 - Published: 02-08-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2791197
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Well, here we are, back in the Makai Kingdom universe. This fic is very different from my other MK story, "Wishes".
1. (I love lists!) For one thing, it's not entirely centered on Salome. In fact, it's more about Zetta (this surprised me as much as anybody). Also, unlike "Wishes", it's not a very serious fic. I think that after detailing all the dark matter that went into the last few chapters of "Wishes", I was ready to lighten up. So while this story does deal with some important themes, it's mainly here to amuse you.
2. Also, this story takes place exactly seven and a half months after the last scene of "Wishes" (or, in other words, about three years after the game). However, you don't need to have read "Wishes" to understand this one. It's a stand alone. Some characters I used before return for this story, but they're fairly minor. You do need to have a good working knowledge of the game's plot to understand all the strange things that transpire though.
3. This is a note to my reviewer Bella. The character Trixabella was not named after you. I wrote this a month before I joined I couldn't un-name her, so please don't think I'm poking fun at you.
4. And: NONE of this is canonical. It pains me to say it, but it is the truth. I know there are MK mangas and coloring books and playing cards and novels and maybe even breakfast cereals, but I've never seen any of them, so you can't hold me accountable.
5. Yay! And now the author is shutting up!
The Rise of the Republic
The most badass, freakin' Overlord in the cosmos was sitting in one of those twirly chairs. You know, the kind with a big padded seat that can tilt back to a comfortable angle and spin in every direction. The sort that you love to sit in when you're kid and spend as long as you can spinning around in it until you throw up; or, when you're older and responsible and concerned about deep things, and you're sitting in your twirly chair pondering Civilization and Its Discontents, and you think to yourself that it was probably just Freud who was pathological and the rest of the world is doing pretty fine without him.
Freud might have had a lot to say about the most badass freakin' Overlord in the universe; Lord Zetta probably wouldn't have let him get very far. Lord Zetta was sitting behind the writing desk of his arch-nemesis, Alexander the God of Destruction, leaning all the way back in Alex's twirly chair and examining his own crossed ankles on a stack of Alex's important outgoing mail.
Damn, I wish he'd show up. Zetta stared up at the ceiling, idly studying the broadly painted thunderbolts and storm clouds. He'd already glanced around the study, not much interested in the sleek, modern furniture, the wide windows, the oriental rug, the Ruskan idols on the white mantle and the three bamboo plants. Zetta picked up one of Alex's fancy silver, snake-headed pens and spun it in his fingers. Damn kid. I thought for sure his spies would've told him I was up here.
Zetta swung his legs down from the desk and began to pace the length of the study, his boot heels sending up sparks where they impacted the smooth, marble floor. A small wind, totally independent of any atmosphere, perpetually kept Zetta's long, black cape in motion. Zetta crossed his arms over his bare chest and looked moodily out the window. A line of Alex's soldiers were marching below, "OoooooEEEEEoooo"ing to themselves. Zetta bared his fangs impatiently. He really didn't have time for this, not today. Not with Salome so close to-
But Alex had sent an assassin to dip Zetta's personal cereal spoon in strychnine that morning, and didn't even the Good Book say something about not letting an argument last longer than a day?
"Oh yeah." Zetta turned as he heard his nemesis' voice, full of good humor and muffled by the door that separated them. "You're gonna love the view from up here." The snazzy chrome door handle turned, and the door swung open. "Miles and miles of Netherworld. Let me just call for some champagne and-" Alex's eyes went round and narrowed sharply. "Zetta! What are you doing here?"
"What the hell? What are you talking about? You tried to kill me just this morning."
"And I thought I'd succeeded!" Alex's fists were at his side, shaking with anger. "You're supposed to come immediately after you realize I've tried to kill you! It's almost evening now! I thought I'd finally obliterated you!"
Zetta put his hands on the area where most humanoids generally have a vaguely poochy area known as hips. Zetta, however, is one of those individuals with absolutely zero-percent unnecessary body-fat. "Always such a stickler for the rules, Alejandro. But I had more important stuff to deal with. As-" He raised his eyebrows. "I see you did too."
Trixabella peeked shyly around from Alex's shoulder and gave Zetta a small wave. She was a cute little succubus, and Zetta couldn't blame Alex for being peeved at any and all interruptions. So far, aside from the initial setback, things were going well.
"How did you get past my defenses?" Alex demanded, eyes going white and angular with cartoony rage.
Zetta spread his hands. "Most badass freaking Overlord in the Universe."
"THAT'S IT!" Alex whipped around to face Trixabella. "Just a moment, pudding." Then he whipped around to face Zetta. "RAGE OF THOR!" About twenty lightning bolts surged out of Alex and lifted Zetta off the ground. Zetta didn't have the most powerful Mana in the cosmos for his good looks though (which is a good thing for him, because that flaming hair...) and used the lightning to ride down on a surge of electricity towards his rival. By the time Zetta had his weapon (cleverly named the Zetta Sword) out, he got one good stab into Alex's chest. The God of Destruction shot into the air on a thundercloud and proceeding to make like an Italian winemaker, stamping out three lightning-bolts a second. Zetta made one or two dodges, got fed up and took to the air again, cutting through the cloud sword-first. Alex yowled and jumped back to the floor, face twisted in annoyance. Zetta landed on the opposite side.
"One of these days, Zetta," Alex breathed. "One of these days..."
"I can't wait. Have fun telling your friend all about it." With that Zetta transported out of Alex's study and onto the front steps of his own citadel in his own Netherworld.
Zetta took a moment to cast a cursory eye over the capital, the busy streets and the training compounds. No signs of any riots, no long line of petitioners come to plead for clemency or a scaling back the draft or no more taxes on oxygen or any other boneheaded ideas. Zetta scanned the sky, looking for any signs of encroaching rivals. No other Netherworlds were near except for his wife's, which was still crashed into the side of his own. Zetta frowned at the enormous green globe always visible on the horizon; it was practically his Netherworld by now, but wasn't he going to do something about it one of these weekends?
Zetta tromped indoors and was immediately greeted by the dogs Kitt and Kiboodl. Dogs is a very loose way of putting it; they're really only called dogs because they're capable of yapping without pausing for breath for a good forty minutes and because they won't leave Zetta alone. Kitt is actually more of a long, feathery, four-eyed black centipede, created by Salome to dust along the walls and shelves and vacuum anything small enough to fit through his small mouth. Salome is also responsible for Kiboodl, who is more like a large scrub brush than anything else. Kiboodl's raison d'être is to wash the floors, drooling water and floor soap of out his mouth, scrubbing with his stomach, and drying with his tail.
Zetta brushed past the adoring pets and tromped up the stories of his citadel to his own study. When he came to the doors, he opened them to find his wife curled up on the couch and talking to Dark Lord Valvoga.
Some husbands, especially highly powerful ones that happen to be demons, would be a bit discombobulated to find their beloved wives alone with rival Overlords, but Valvoga didn't count. Both Salome and Valvoga turned around at Zetta's entry, Micky clapped his hands. "You're back! Oh good, you can have some of my Sanguini Alfredo!"
Salome tapped the plate balanced on her knees, piled high with smoldering pasta in cream sauce. "I had a craving for Italian."
"It was Chinese last night," Zetta remarked, darting a quick look at her nine-months enlarged midriff. He'd accustomed himself to the fact several months ago that Salome had to lose her tiny waist (as she kept saying, it was his fault anyway). And while he was fully aware that Salome looked better pregnant than most woman do after a liposuction and several rounds of botox, he couldn't deny he'd be relieved as soon as the infant showed up.
"Thanks for bringing it over," he said wearily, dropping onto the couch.
"No problem," Micky said cheerfully. "It just goes to show I'm the most powerful gourmand in the cosmos. If you want steak tomorrow, Salome, I can rustle up some good Minotaur meat."
"How do you feel?" Zetta asked quickly.
"Oh, chipper," Micky said.
Salome waved her hand. "I feel fine. I don't think we need to worry." She gave him a quick smile that barely reached her red eyes. Just yesterday, Salome had slipped on some sliming ooze in one of the kitchens and fallen on her backside. There hadn't been any blood though, and the baby certainly hadn't stopped kicking.
"Still," Micky said, knotting his hands, forehead rumpled with concern. "You need to take it easy. This is your first pregnancy, and those are always chancy. Have you been taking your vitamins? Are you still doing yoga? It'll do you good, it really will."
Zetta got to his feet. "Lay off, Micky! She's fine!" He laughed shortly. "There's nothing to worry about. This is my kid we're talking about, remember? It'll take more than a little tumble to stop my DNA!" He made a fist. "The cockroach gene is strong in this one!"
Salome sighed. "I really wish you wouldn't put it that- AGGGH!" Salome's face twisted in pain.
Zetta instantly had his arms around her. "Dammit! Micky, get a healer -NOW!"
"Uh -uh!" Micky fretted.
"She's dying, dammit, you better get a healer right now or I'm going to pull out your internal organs and strangle you with them!"
Salome took a deep breath. "No -Zetta -no, I'm fine."
Zetta's eyes were wild. "How can you be sure? You've never been pregnant before! You could be having contractions! You could be having fatal-"
"I have died before," Salome interrupted him. "Twice. And trust me that wasn't the third time." She ran a hand along her abdomen and winced. "I think the baby was casting a low-level fire spell in there."
Zetta's face melted a moment or two. "The little tyke... STOP FRYING YOUR MOTHER! YOU WANNA BE GROUNDED THE FIRST MONTH OF YOUR LIFE?"
"I've read that a baby in the womb can hear its mother's voice," Ophelia commented from the region of Micky's waist. "This one will be pretty well acquainted with Daddy too."
"Okay, I think it's time for you three to shove off," Zetta suggested.
Ophelia curved her smile beneath her perpetually shut eyes. "Ah, fathers are always irritable when they're pregnant."
"Zetta!" Micky wailed, the light of Zetta's Mana bright in his eyes. "No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-!"
Zetta sat down and put his arms back around Salome as they watched Valvoga crash backwards through the wall, slam down several galleries, through the side of the citadel and out into the black cosmos.
"I'll get the architects on it," Zetta promised.
"I just hope he's fit to bring dinner around tomorrow." Salome put her Sanguini Alfredo down on the coffee table and leaned back against Zetta. "How did it go with Alex?"
"Hm. Next move will be yours. Any ideas?"
Zetta crossed his ankle on his knee. "Nothing yet. I mean, after sixteen and a half centuries of conflict, it's hard to think of new ways to assassinate your enemy. Even Alex is slipping; this is about the third time he's poisoned my cereal spoon."
Salome laced her long fingers over her stomach. "Well, now that you're here, we should really try deciding on a name."
Zetta sighed and rubbed his neck. "Hmm...You really don't like Zetta Junior?"
"I really don't. Besides, it could be a girl."
"We could still call her Zetta Junior."
"But we're not."
"Well, all right. You got any ideas?"
"I was thinking something nice and low-key. Maybe Lucifer if it's a boy, and Lilith if it's a girl."
Zetta thought about it and shook his head. "Salome, this kid's going to be the product of the two most powerful Overlords in the universe. Its name can't be 'nice and low-key'."
"Point taken. Your turn."
"How about...hmmm, how about... How about Ultimeteo?"
Salome looked up from Zetta's shoulder with a pained expression. "This is our baby, Zetta. Don't we want what's best for it?"
"Fine, fine, you could just say 'no'."
Salome reached back and rubbed Zetta's collarbone thoughtfully. "There are plenty of ways to name a baby. For instance, it should be born in a few weeks. We could name it after the month." She frowned. "Forgive me, but I'm pregnant. What month is it?"
Salome frowned. "Well then, we could name it after the month it was conceived. That would be..."
Salome grimaced. "Well...we could name it after the place where it was conceived."
"Er...you wanna call our baby Bedroom?"
Salome's fingers jerked to box his ears. "No. I mean, let's see, last Ughtuber... We were out conquering part of Babylon's Netherworld. We were in that desert, weren't we? The one with the mummies and enormous dungbeetles. And we'd holed up in that old sandstone fortress, remember? What was it called?"
Zetta had collected Salome's plate and was busy finishing her dinner. "Fort Slaughterdale."
"Oh. Well then, I have no good ideas. Your turn."
Zetta propped his feet on the coffee table and slurped up a noodle. "Anyone we admire enough to name our kid after them?"
"Yeah, thought so. Still say we should name it after me."
Salome reached around and reclaimed the fork, complete with Zetta's next forkful. She chewed a bit. "This is delicious. Maybe...maybe we should name the baby Alfredo."
Later that night, while snug in his orange pj's, tucked under the covers and fast asleep in bed, Zetta was having one of those stereotypical protagonist dreams. Yup, there he was, thrashing around, face contorted in frustration, while, somewhere between his tattooed eyes and his big ears and his heaps of flaming hair, he was dreaming that he was running down a dark, stone corridor after a flaring golden fire. He sprinted, feet slapping the pavement, breath punching his chest, but the fire came no closer. He had to get to it. The softly chanting music in the background made that clear enough. But -it -came -no -closer!
"No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" Zetta wailed, lunging forward in slow motion as the fire went out. Then, instead of landing shnozz-first on the cold stone pavement, he found himself in a lush field of pastel flowers under a vivid blue sky. Well, that was enough to make any Overlord's stomach roll over, but just as he'd started to gag, he saw Salome bounding across the field of flowers towards him. And Salome's waist was back under twenty-inches around! And she was wearing a bikini! Okay, that was more like it!
"No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" Zetta wailed, lunging forward in slow motion as the ground opened up and swallowed Salome whole. Zetta reached the spot just as the ground was shutting itself up again, in time to hear it burp and boom "YUM." Zetta was scrabbling furiously at the ground with the fingernails of one hand, using the other hand to hack away at the ground with his sword, using not a single brain cell to remember that he was this maniac Mana beast and could blow the planet to confetti if he wanted to, when all the daisies and tulips and morning glories around him popped out of the ground and brandished chainsaws at him. In a second, they were on him, chainsaws buzzing angrily, and suddenly the ground was opening up again, pulling him into darkness while the flowers cackled like demented kindergartners and the earth was closing back up again and that was pretty bad but maybe he could find Salome down here and save her from-
"No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" Zetta wailed, lunging forward in slow motion as water closed over his head and the world turned into a long trail of bubbles. Zetta surfaced, gasping for air, and it was then that he heard Salome frantically shouting his name. Zetta glanced around, desperately seeking Salome, but all he could see was churning waves and darkness. He thought, maybe, her voice was coming from his left, so he struck out across the water towards her voice, cutting through the waves like a-
"No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" Zetta wailed, lunging forward in slow motion as he realized he was the Sacred Tome again! "No!" Zetta cried as he went under the waves, pages flapping helplessly, water seeping through his binding, gluing his pages together, making his ink run in black rivulets through the thrashing water. He spiraled downward into watery darkness, his front cover hopelessly facing the surface, his eyes fixed on the line of bubbles that followed him to his doom-
Zetta snorted and came awake. He blinked through the darkness and eventually made out Salome's face. She'd been shaking him. "Heh?"
"Zetta." She gripped his arm. "My water broke."