My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult: I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits: Track 2
Theme: Doomite backstories of youth
Date of Completion: July 12, 2008
Disclaimer: All characters are property of World Events Productions.
I couldn't do it. The moaning from the now disfigured Drule reached my ears, a low, prolonged note. I dropped the knife, covering them.
"Fool," I heard my Master snarl. I looked up at him. I had disappointed him yet again. I lowered my arms, and he soundly boxed my large ears. He grabbed my hands before they shot back up. I could hear nothing except my pulse. "Sorry, Master," I felt myself mumble.
He placed the knife back into my hand and pointed to our captive's chest. I inched back up, and looked at the hapless man. His skin was violet, paler now that he had bled out and was close to death, at least in places that had managed to avoid being torn or bruised a different hue. His eyes were glassy, dried tears marking trails on his bludgeoned face. His fingers had been snapped at the knuckles, his feet scalded in boiling water. He had capitulated and revealed his treasonous secrets hours ago, so his usefulness was at an end. My Master would simply detail in the report that the prisoner perished during the session; happened more often than not, anyway. Whatever assignment he was given was expected to be fatal for the object in question. As an Imperial Interrogator, he thoroughly enjoyed his work.
I lifted the blade high into the air: I'll simply let gravity do the work for me. I'll just relinquish control, let my arm drop, it'll neatly sink in, it will be done.
"Well?" he replied impatiently. I looked at my arm, shaking but still up, the knife wavering in my hand. "If he dies before you do anything, you can expect another session of your own," Master intoned.
As if on cue, the prisoner retched a final breath. I gasped and smashed the knife into his heart as hard as I could. I turned to my Master. "I did it!"
He frowned. "Doesn't count if he's already dead!"
I pouted. "It was only a couple of seconds. It should count!" I really REALLY did not want disciplinary action today. My back was still smarting from the last one, and I still couldn't feel my webbed toes. I was taking a huge risk arguing my case, but I was not the smartest of Duonulans.
My Master leaned down, grabbing my face in his bloodied, gloved hand, squeezing my cheeks so hard the insides cut against my canines. My dark blood gathered on my tongue, and I promptly swallowed it. I knew not to let the corrosive stuff leave my lips and harm him. He pulled me upward, dangling me like the puppet I was. His crimson eyes meeting my yellow, he succinctly retorted, "It does not count if you are not responsible for the kill." Finality in his voice, he threw me to the cold floor of the torture chamber. He pressed a button in the wall, activating the video console.
"It is done. Prisoner deceased. The information has been recorded and will be forwarded post-haste," he announced to the official on the other end.
"Excellent work as usual, Lotor." The official closed the connection, and the monitor went dark.
My, Master, Lotor Traq'Nai, my father, turned to me, regarding me like an insect about to be crushed beneath his boot. "I wish I could say the same for my Assistant, stubborn imbecile."
"Crap," I whispered. I closed my eyes and bowed my head. "Any way I can have another chance to prove my worth before another session?" I ventured, taking care not to whine in my plea for mercy. It never improved my lot with him for as long as my young mind could remember. He fed on the fear of others, and the more visibly affected one was, the crueler he responded. He smirked, aware that I was terrified of being punished again, but I could also see he was sated from his earlier victim. My negotiations had never succeeded before, but each time I got better at it; I had nothing to lose, really. If he said no, I'd still get the same thrashing he'd planned anyway, with maybe an extra thumbscrew thrown in for kicks due to the insubordination of asking for something.
He was my Master and my biological parent, though the latter was courtesy of some illegal bio-engineering he had commissioned. Most Duonulans were from controlled lines produced explicitly by the Imperial Laboratories, products leased by the Drule citizens. These Duonulans were treated rather well: a damage affected future leasing rates, and with such long life spans, the resulting penalties were high. My father preferred not to deal with this, so I came about from his Drule seed and a female Native that had been a living family heirloom. She carried me to term in her womb, stayed with me until I could walk, then was granted manumission as far as I know. He was the only one who cared about me. I had no one to care about but him. I was created to live for him, to survive his training and rearing. I grew awfully slowly, and learned just as quickly, but through his teachings I was literate, capable of basic fighting, and on my way to becoming a sound aide-de-camp. I would've preferred less corporal punishment, but then, doesn't every child?
He smiled broadly, in a way he'd never reserved for me before. "Very well," he agreed.
"You will return to the manor house tonight. I will arrive in three days. Be ready with your proof. Do NOT fail."
I nodded emphatically, doing my best to hide the smile my face desperately wanted to show. "Yes, Master."
"If you touch me again, I'm going to punch you." I grumbled up at the oldest slave Master owned, a Native healer. She had been another of the family's heirlooms considered too valuable to ever sell. She was an aide-de-camp of an older Traq' Nai patriarch, though I was much better at speaking than she. Someone of her size and skill, a creature that could snap an enemy in twain and heal her owner with as much power was something that could only be wrested from said owner's dead hands. Master Lotor preferred to relegate her to managing the household slaves, patching my more stubborn wounds and keeping an eye on me when he wasn't around.
She lightly pinched my ear, her intention to quiet my tongue. "Nonsense. Your back needs another treatment," she replied in Nativespeak.
I groaned, "Do you have to talk in this stupid language? No one uses this crap, and no one needs it translated either."
She pinched me harder, "Don't insult your ancestors. Honor what little is left of them."
"What's left of them," I chortled. "The closest things I have to ancestors are a petri dish, a baster, and a splicer, Version 3.0," I continued, not realizing she'd since removed my thick shirts and dressing. "Hey!"
She clicked her tongue behind me. "Some of it split open. Two of your undershirts need some patching. What happened today?" her tone blatant in that she expected a lie out of me.
Why disappoint her? "Nothing, same old, same old," I continued in Nativespeak.
"Same old," she spat. I wondered if some of her spittle ended up in my wounds. "I'm amazed you have any spirit at all," she thought aloud. I begrudgingly let her finish doing her usual techniques and bandage me up. "Now your toes."
"I told you before, I can do the healing thing on little stuff like that!" I protested in Drule. I stomped my foot. "See? No pain?"
"I still want to examine them. I will hold you upside-down by the ankles if I have to...like last time."
"Damn it!" I tried to run, but her stride length and long arms snatched me up. She lifted me up, the world topsy-turvy. I crossed my arms. Our eyes met, mine flashing violet, hers the same, only stronger. "No cursing allowed." She grinned as much as her toothy face allowed. "But, those eyes of yours means your optical electroplaques are working! Soon the ones in your arms and legs will come alive, and..."
"And Master will see if I can jump-start a ship?" I smirked.
She frowned, and gave me a light jiggle. Twice in one day! "Master already did this, it's getting redundant."
She smoothly turned me over and placed my feet on the floor. "They look better than before. I see you are capable of paying attention to me."
I reached for my shirts. "I can patch these up later," I said as I put them back on, needing to feel the layers consume me. "I have something more important to do and I've only got three days. Well, two, actually, now that most of today is gone," I rambled.
"What do you need to do?" she demanded as I headed out of the room, but I didn't bother answering.
I took the small transport vehicle to the local town under my Master's jurisdiction. He was a noble that lived to multi-task, I smiled to myself. It had a decent amount of interprovincial traffic. The best place to find someone no one would look for when they vanished. I gulped. I had helped in interrogations before, but I was never told to strike the final blow. I had a unique sense of empathy; I knew what areas hurt the most. The scalding water on the feet was my idea. Thinking about yesterday's events, I pulled out my souvenir from my pocket. The vehicle was automatic, tethered to the destination by a magnetic track, so I could be as absent-minded as I wanted. My favorite moments were when I had to run errands in it; no one accompanied me anymore, since no one expected me to flee. My life was a cage whose door was always open. I lifted the trinket: a locket of brushed gunmetal. It was the only thing the man had left on him, and Master graciously let me keep it. I pried it open with a spine growing out from my forearm; my teeth hadn't worked. There were two digital pictures in the locket's insides: one of the man embracing his wife, I assumed, looking much better than when Master was through with him; the other, four young Drule children barely school-age, boys and girls, none looking older than I physically did. My time spent living was likely the sum of theirs. My vision turned purple and next thing I knew I was smashing the locket onto the dashboard. Panting, sweating, I gave it another look. The pictures were no more, and the gunmetal was scratched up, damaged.
"Much better." I put the locket on, its chain too long. I wrapped it loosely around my neck so that it settled between my hearts. I gave it a pat as I hid it beneath my shirts.
The vehicle hit something. I was thrown to the right, my arms hitting the window, cracking it. I grit my teeth as I felt my back rip open again. "Great, now she's gonna be really upset with me," I yelled. The vehicle slowed to a halt. I opened the door and stepped out. Maybe my job was already done.
"Easiest thing I've ever had to do." I took a look at the impact. "Oh no," I moaned, pulling on my finned ears in dismay. "What is he going to DO to me when he sees this?" I screamed. I fell to my knees. The damage was extensive, something a flesh impact could not do. What could I have hit? I peered at the ship.
"Looks like a giant fist did that," I began as I saw a giant shadow in the corner of my eye. I lunged to the side as I saw a mechanical fist slam the ship where I had been. "BY VAJEL, A GIANT FIST DID DO THAT!" The force knocked me off my feet right onto my back. I cried out in pain, my sight swirling. The machine was struggling to pull its arm out. It had struck with full force this time. I hastily stood up, backing away incredulously.
If it had just not tried to kill me, the scene would have been very funny. The machine was humanoid in design, about 9 feet tall. It had a foot propped up on the mangled vehicle as it tried to wrest its arm free. I didn't recognize any insignia on it, and the design was strange. The information the man had was nothing related to military weaponry. What was this thing, and why was it after me?
The head turned to me. It stopped struggling, aiming its free arm at me. I could see some sort of projectile weapon attached to it. I turned and started running, not caring that it wouldn't make a difference. I heard an explosion and accepted my death as I kissed a tree.
The sizzling of my blood against the fallen leaves woke me. I sat up, rubbing the back of my head. Felt okay. I gingerly touched my face, and grimaced at the touch and dark blood on my fingers. I looked at my clothing and saw that dirt, dust, and holes caused by my blood ruined them. There was not enough patching I could do to fix these, and I would be soundly punished. My anger about it surpassed any joy I felt at still being alive as I marched to the robot.
I saw that the explosion was from the disruption of the magnetic tether; the weapon must've had a magnetic field of its own, and it resulted in an unstable discharge. The robot's torso was splitting open as I neared it. Something was going to come out of it? Fine. I grabbed a slivered piece of metal that once belonged to my Master's ship, and took cover in its debris, waiting.
I heard coughing, a female groaning. I peered over the destroyed hood, and took a glimpse at my attacker. She was a human. A human, on Opachre! Her hair was reddish-brown, a color quite rare in the Empire, with streaks of gray. She wore a green smock, and held a bulky gun in her hand. Well, that certainly explained the strange mechanical style. The smoke from the wreck clogged the air, and each moment was harder to see. My eyes shut, stinging from the air. I shook my head, forcing them open. I could make out her outline, and the glint of something in her other arm, but her gun suddenly rose up in my direction. I scooted around the vehicle as a beam of something pierced the hood. It was not explosives-based, but a portable version of the newest weapons the Empire used on its battleships. They had only the capability to make them for large battles, and here a human was walking with it in her hand! An Imperial threat was on this planet, and somehow thought killing a worthless slave was a good use of her power.
"What do you want?" I shouted, first in Drule, then in the few human dialects I had been taught so far. For all the traveling and work Master did, the likelihood of meeting or interrogating a Human was high; if I was to be the best Assistant, he felt it necessary I know how to talk to these strangely colored creatures that looked like Drules rolled in clay. I thanked my Master yet again as the human responded.
"To kill you, Zarkon," she answered. "On behalf of Arus and the Denubian, I Mary Ann, with save the Universe from your tyranny!"
The crackling of electricity blocked out most of her speech, so if she had mentioned where she was from, I could not tell. It didn't help matters that the dialect she used was a horrible distortion of what I knew. I did hear her name, Mary Ann, and that she was going to kill me because she thought my name was Zarkon. It had a nice ring to it, but it was obviously unpopular.
"Hate to break this to you," I yelled back, my bravado emerging from whereabouts unknown, "but my name's not Zarkon. It's Aellon. Simple mistake, given how they both end the same." I held my makeshift sword in my hands as I crept around the wreckage.
"Your energy field is unmistakable," she explained as she looked at her handheld device. It must have read out how close I was to her by now, because she turned and aimed her gun at me. I was too close to her by now and I sliced her weapon in two. She instinctively backed up like prey before falling on her backside. This woman was no soldier, no fighter. Neither was I, but I was the only one armed now, so I had control of the situation. It had never happened to me before, and I was enjoying it.
I held the metal to her throat, making a deliberate, tiny cut. "Give me that," I shifted my eyes to that energy field reader she still clasped. She defiantly stared at me. I kicked her in the chest, and felt ribs, no armor at all. Stupid human, devoting all metal to a robot. Poor planning. She coughed, choking, her grip still strong.
"Even as a child, you are a monster!" she cried out. "That face of yours, I can never forget its ageless ugliness. You killed my family, crushed the lives of millions!"
"What are you talking about, killing?" I pushed. "Monster, ugly?"
She looked at me with complete hatred. It was different from my Master's derision, or the other's Duonulans disgust at my throwback features. She hated me to my very core, and I hadn't done a damn thing to her. "Do you have any idea what is going to happen to me if I show my Master the damage done to his vehicle?" I questioned her, my voice eerily calm, my words evenly spaced. Her eyes lit up with confusion. "Master?" she replied.
"My Master. I am a slave, Mary Ann," I patronized her. "Humans aren't aware of the Duonulan slave trade?"
She started to chuckle. It was not the response I was expecting. Her shoulders shook as her chuckle became a dark laugh and then a hearty guffaw. Tears spilled from her eyes. "The great King Zarkon, a child slave! What a joke! A cosmic joke!" she roared. I hadn't noticed until now that I had pulled away from her, my weapon no where near her throat. It fell out of my hands. Whatever name she was calling me, she found me pathetic, something to be ridiculed. That's all I was to everyone, no, anyone. A stranger from another world took one look at me and laughed, calling me a monster all the while, laughing at me, loathing me. My sight grew dim, a dizziness coming over me. My body shook with fury and fatigue, a ferocious couple.
"It doesn't matter anymore," she snickered, still holding that metal box. "One press of this button, and it will detonate and take out this entire area. I will die, but I will take you with me, and the Universe will be a better place with you scattered in a million pieces."
"Stop saying that!" I cried, lunging at her, grabbing at the box. She tugged at it as I did the same. She glared at me, and spit at me. She leaped at me, pinning me to the ground. "You suddenly remembered you were bigger than me?" I managed before she punched me square in the nose. "I wouldn't have done that if I were you," I gargled on my blood before I returned the favor and spat back. She squealed as it burned her left eye and marred her skin. Still, she was resolute in reclaiming control of the box as she smashed my arm in an awkward angle onto the ground, pulling my hair with her other hand. I started biting her, any part of her my mouth could reach, her arm, her shoulders; even got a bit of her neck for a moment before she kneed me in the groin. Her blood tasted differently from mine; human blood, a thin, salty drink.
"You do know that Drules will be here any minute, and they will see you, and they will capture you," I snarled at her. She turned to the direction of the town, still some distance away. She turned back to me. "Who are you to judge me?" I shivered in frustration and fear. She let go of the box, and it neatly sat in my hand.
I sat up, dumbfounded. Her damaged face looked at my own, and I saw sadness.
"To be a child, and to have no soul," she shivered. "And you have destroyed mine." She laid on her back, stretching her arms out. "I ripped the threads of time to reach you, years of research and perseverance, and what do I find? A disfigured boy."
Both her eyes closed, her breathing slow. I looked at the metal box in my hand. Her poisonous words had seeped into me, and I couldn't guard against them as my body and mind were spent. For the first time in many years, I began to cry. I whimpered, pulling on the locket with my free hand. I did not see Mary Ann come closer, her surrender a bluff. I hunched over, curling myself as tight as I could. I heard the sound of metal scraping across the grass.
She raised the metal shard over me.
All was darkness.
II- Mary Ann
He was still alive. With the blunt side of the metal, I'd slammed it into that thick sinus crest of his, though instead of a bald head it grew hair in a skunk pattern. His caustic blood splattered over my clothes, and stung my hands, scarring my crude weapon as well. I cast it aside, and sank to my knees. My face had been numb for quite some time, and given the opportunity my hands now touched my wounded face. It felt quite horrible, but not as much as my heart did.
This boy WAS Zarkon, or would be. Changing his name made sense for an egotistic tyrant that began a life as a slave. This boy would grow, he would destroy planets, Arus, my home. My parents. The shock of my previous inventions being used for war had once lulled me into cynical pacifism, but when Zarkon's forces struck again, with the help of the Voltron Force I had learned some things were worth fighting for. That was when I was much younger. When I had discovered time-travel, it seemed the best way to circumvent all the violence and suffering in the galaxy was to eliminate the source before it became a threat. I could not entrust my invention to anyone, lest they abuse it. The Arusian Royal Family tried to confiscate my robotic suit, but I had escaped.
It was instantaneous, really. One moment I was punching at the Black Lion while initiating the tracing for Zarkon's bio-signal using my tachyon detector, the next my robotic fist was smashing a Drule vehicle with the future despot inside! The number of robots I had to lose to obtain that energy information of his...
He was still breathing, unconscious. I took a long look at him. He looked like a frail 8-year-old, only a trifle taller, not hinting at the behemoth he could grow up to be. His thin frame and loose clothing belied his strength. Much of it had either been torn away or dissolved by his peculiar body fluids, and I could see older bruises and scars, poor child. A child. I had struck down a young boy. I shook my head to fling the encroaching guilt from my mind, "He not just a boy. He is Zarkon. I'm doing the right thing. This one life to spare millions of others. They will never have to fight, to die now, because of this. I can handle the pain, it is worth it!" He was still clutching the detector: I had been lying about its self-destruct capability, expecting him to be docile. Instead, he reacted viciously to survive. Did all children react this way, or just him? How would I have responded as an orphaned girl?
A strange buzzing noise zipped through my ears. I turned and saw a strange reptilian creature streak towards us. Electricity flayed from its back, propelling it forward. The closer it came, the more the passing resemblance to Zarkon and his ilk was noticeable. I inwardly thanked the Goddess for such a trait being lost by his generation. It promptly stopped, looking over me at the downed Zarkon.
"Why, human?" the tone was more inquisitive than accusatory, which surprised me. Were these monsters incapable of compassion? It was hard for me to tell what gender this being was: no breasts adorned it, no overtly feminine features nor phallic hints. I didn't know how to reply; what should I say? Should I reveal where and whence I came?
It walked around me, and knelt beside him, his breathing deep. It caressed his bloodied cheek with the tenderness of a mother. "It" was a "she." Was she his mother? Did she know what destruction one of her brood was capable of? "He's, he's going to be a tyrant!" I stammered. "He will crush countless peoples. I wanted to stop him! I meant to stop him!"
She turned to me, her eyes glowing, something sinister and calculating behind them. "Finish then."
"What?" I blustered, completely caught off-guard. I was expecting a fight, one I'd have no chance in surviving, let alone winning, but receiving an invitation to outright end his life in front of her sapped away mt righteous intent.
"I know his Master for many years. I serve Master's father, and Master's father's father. I learn some human tongue," she explained her ability to communicate with me. "All cruel, but Master is cruelest," she continued. "I fear Master, ordered to not kill construct myself. He suffers. You kill him. If he so bad, then he not worth my time," she continued, ending with a grimace. She was quickly by my side, and dragging me to him with blinding speed.
The more she insisted, the less I wanted to do this. An hour ago I had been all too ready to kill him; now that bloodlust was gone. What could I do?
She shook me, seething. "NOW! Drules coming!" My teeth sank into my tongue from the force and I tasted blood. She pushed me onto him, my face an inch from his. A Drule gun was placed in my hand, sleeker yet less ergonomic than my own had been. She wanted me to shoot him point-blank? If I still had the gall, his spatter would mortally ruin whatever was left of my face. My hand wavering, I aimed the barrel at his forehead. His eyelids fluttered open, and he looked at me lucidly. His deceptive nature was ingrained as a survival tactic, I understood that now. Those yellow eyes, his normally slit pupils dilated, bereft of innocence. I stalled, debating whether to override my newfound conscience, and his eyes settled on the woman. Caked with blood and dirt it was, there was no mistaking the look of betrayal on his ugly face. He had come to at some point, and heard every word she'd said. Tears welled up in his eyes as he howled, spines in his forearms coming alive with a violet tinge, slicing my gun-wielding hand off at the wrist. I clutched it as I felt a mild current pass through me, aghast as I saw a young child aim and pull the trigger at the only maternal influence he likely ever had.
She didn't even try defending herself.
I ran to my robot, hoping I could initiate a return trip despite its poor shape. I turned my head, expecting to be shot at, but I was not his target. He emptied the clip into her, each shot eliciting a pained roar. As I crawled in, our eyes locked. My remaining hand found the control to seal the torso. An instant later I was back on Arus, in front of Black Lion. I surrendered my robot, pulled out barely alive by fellow human guards. Queen Allura demanded to know what had happened, but I never said a word.
They already knew who I had created.
"Impressive. I did not think you were capable of this particular mark. Killing a Native Opachrian is something few can do, and nothing a half-dead Duonulan has ever managed before. Overpowering such a valuable specimen underscores your higher appraisal," Master Lotor replied, scrutinizing my quarry. "Though I will not go easy on you when you require discipline," he warned me with a stern glare, "so if you do not heal like your old friend here, I suggest you stock up on bandages and etiquette."
My swollen face was crudely healing and difficult for him to look at me for long before turning his attention back to the body. I had dragged her corpse into his private study before the Drule authorities arrived.
"And her tongue? Any reason you cut that out?" he narrowed his eyes at me. "She was your caretaker all your life. What did she say to prompt that extra step?"
"She had nothing to say other than she didn't like me."
Master laughed in a manner that brought back recent events all too vividly.
"A wonderful first kill," My Master nodded in approval. "A bit gratuitous, but we can improve your precision over time. My first was a spritely Argusian. Premonitions didn't do him any good in the end," he wistfully reminisced. I pat the metal box in my pocket, my latest souvenir.
I was now the monster Mary Ann had expected me to be.
I hope I can thank her someday.
Written by Buzz McCoy & Groovie Mann
Published by SleazeBox Music / BMI
Vocals - Groovie Mann, Buzz McCoy
Keys & Programming – Buzz McCoy
Guitar - Luc Van Acker