The Final Curtain
'Around, around the sun we go: The moon goes round the earth. We do not die of death: We die of vertigo.' - Archibald Macleish
It was incredibly disconcerting, hearing his own death screams coming from someone else's mouth.
What was even more wrong was the fact that he had felt so good afterwards. It was like a drink of strong coffee after several days without sleep. No, like truly living again after spending a week as a zombie. He had never realised how much vitality he had been missing for so long. The rush of life energy coursing like fire through his veins was pure ecstasy. He had to hide his face from Jack so the snakebird could not see the manic grin on his face. It was fortunate for him that the cowardly bird liked to hover so far above the ground while he watched Garian fight, so he would not inadvertently be hit. You can't even see the goddamn battle properly from up there, you stupid bird, thought Garian.
"Is something wrong?" asked Jack.
"Er... me? No, nothing wrong. I've been wounded, is all. Kinda hurts..."
"Garian, being wounded in battle is not 'nothing wrong'. Let me have a look."
"No!" Without thinking, Garian swiped at the annoying bird. It never worked; Jack deftly avoided the backhand smack with an indignant flourish of his feathers. Then his sinuous neck darted around and his expression became far, far more worried.
"We have ninety seconds to get off this island before it explodes!"
"WHAT?" Garian jumped to his feet and bolted towards the port, leaving the bird to flap manically to keep up with him. He swore repeatedly under his breath. Swore at Jack, at himself, at Bilan, at this goddamn island and that stupid piece of crap the Agency called a prison escort ship. He used every foul syllable to keep time as he ran, jumping over falling masonry or being bodily lifted by Jack over anything he couldn't jump over.
Somehow, he made it. Kay and Tracy were waiting for him at the harbor. They had brought him transport out of here. He thanked the Gods that it was them and not that goddamn ship.
"Garian..." began Kay.
"We need to leave NOW! Everyone on board!" warned Jack.
"Kay... I have a message from him." said Garian.
"Him?" asked Kay, confused.
" 'Let's meet in our dreams.' "
"I... think I understand. Thank you." Kay nodded. Then the two Lavian ninjas walked to their submarine. The other submarine was for him to escape on. He boarded it and it started off automatically.
He wondered where exactly it was programmed to take him. Not that it mattered. He stood on the observation rail and watched the island collapse piece by piece before sinking under the water, causing a massive tidal wave. It made him sad to know that such total destruction was a complete waste. He knew it was not enough to break through. No matter what he broke, it didn't matter shit when he was an entire day late. Had to be on time. Always had to be on time.
"Seriously now, who's 'him'?" asked Jack.
"None of your business, birdy." retorted Garian.
"Its okay, Garian, I understand. You were all embarrassed because you have a crush on that ninja girl, and your brain went all fuzzy and you just said any old bullshit."
Garian spluttered and blushed, "I... er..."
"You humans are so dumb sometimes. Its so much easier with birds. Me and Regina..."
"I'm going down to my cabin. I feel tired." And cold. So cold... the chill was biting. His blood was freezing. Cold as the grave... he knew he hadn't fully recovered, even with the energy of the Bilanium and all the life energy of his doppelgängers that he had slain. You couldn't cheat death forever. He had bought himself more time, though, maybe enough time for one last attempt.
"Sweet dreams." said Jack.
Garian turned his face to hide the unadulterated murderous look in his eyes.
He lay down on his bunk, shivering even with the covers pulled over him, stared at the ceiling and remembered. He just wanted to be alone with his own memories for a while longer.
He remembered jumping down after claiming his third prey by pushing him off the ledge into the Bilanium tank, and landing on the ledge below where that one had been. Hiding in the shadows, he had spotted another. He waited for the annoying bird to go scouting down the corridor, then he casually stepped out of the shadows and placed his blade against the man's throat.
"Three down, three to go." he had whispered. The other Garian had whirled around, a satisfying look of horror on his face.
"No scar, no bird." he shrugged, "You know, if you just shut up and die by my hand, it might trigger it, at least for you."
"The way out." there was an almost reverent tone in his voice, "Or you want to help me find the true way out? Quickly, we do not have much time, we NEVER have much time! Do you remember a girl? A girl in your dreams?"
The other Garian nodded, a bemused look on his face. He lowered the blade and leaned across to whisper into the man's ear:
"When you go to sleep and wake up, you have to be on time, not late. On time. And then you'll meet her in person, but you'll have to save her. Except that you have to leave her to her fate. And then when you meet her sister..."
"What in hell are you on about? I'm not killing any girl or their sister!"
Whipping his blade out of his scabbard, the other Garian swung at him. He was not fast enough or strong enough. Not with the strength of three Garians already infusing his blood. His blade went through his hated double's chest with a satisfying crunch. The man fell and began coughing up blood.
Garian knelt down to hear the final request pass through his adversary's bloodstained lips before he gasped his last breath. It was only courtesy, even though they all said the same thing. It sickened him. Why did they all ask for something they couldn't even avoid anyway?
He remembered the child. He honestly hadn't wanted to kill the child. It had been the only thing he could think of. The only action that deviated so much from his destiny, so utterly despicably wrong and out of character, so inherently damaging to everything around him, surely it would break the cycle.
It hadn't been the Jalapeno Juice that made him do it. Oh yes, he had been drunk, he had the flashbacks, an entire bottle of prison-brewed booze and post traumatic stress disorder was always a bad combination. It was the hour he had spent scratching at the stage wall, screaming, desperately trying to pry apart the planks of wood to reach the merciful darkness of the night after a day that never ended, that tantalising music he had never heard before, the eschatological gravity of the culmination of a thousand Universes he could almost reach out and touch. It was the fact that it didn't work, that it never worked. He had only stopped because Kurtliegen had somehow physically pried him away, dragged him outside and electrocuted him with his claw until he was sober. He let the Warden live. He always killed the warden and it never made a damn difference. Instead, he had pushed the man off him with a demonic strength and strode towards the prison entrance...
The cold was unbearable now. He couldn't feel his feet. He felt himself becoming dizzy. He ran a hand over the scar across his face. It had been a good idea, letting Garian attack his face in battle so that Jack couldn't tell the difference between them. Stupid bird. It hurt like hell now, though. It made him feel any sleepier. Shouldn't go to sleep when you're this cold...
It doesn't matter any more. Tomorrow... yesterday I will wake up. I'll be the only one. They're all gone now. All of them. Maybe it'll be enough. Enough to break down the stage door. Break everything. Break out.
((Disclaimer: Dying to Carbon Garian does not trigger Parallel Six, it is just a normal Game Over which is boring and wastes two hours. As far as I know, it is impossible to even get up onto the stage. I won't spoil for you the consequences of letting Kay die in Parallel 2.
Dedicated to everyone else looking for Parallel Six: The Hunt for Parallel Six.))