Kai stared out across the ocean, its light blue surface gently oscillating with the tides as they rolled in smoothly, soaking his bare feet in their cool water before receding back out into the sea. The sun shone beautifully, dancing across the waves of the forgotten, dead world.

"Hello, Kai," came a familiar voice, followed by the sound of feet soflty thudding and sinking into the sands of the beach.

"Prince," said Kai, not taking his gaze away from the horizon.

The other figure plunked down onto the sand beside Kai, taking a deep breath of fresh air.

"How is death treating you?" asked Prince in his usual, faux-amicable manner. He gave no sign of being disappointed when the Brunnen-G did not respond.

"Pretty place you've got here, where exactly is this?" asked Prince again, lifting a hand to guard his eyes against the sun's glare.

"This is the Other Zone," replied Kai.

"Don't be coy with me, Kai, I'm genuinely curious about this dream spot you've chosen to vegetate in."

Sighing, Kai took his gaze away from the horizon, "this is Brunnus-2. I remember visiting this place when I was young."

"Indeed," said Prince, having grabbed up a handful of the fine sand beneath him and was watching it slip between his fingers, "but aren't there any other places you would like to visit? It seems like every time I come to see you, you've dreamed up some location from this dead world. You have many good memories of our time on Fire, do you not?"

Despite the mocking humour behind Prince's words, Kai laughed, uncontrollable chuckles growing to outright laughter.

Prince smiled in his wary fashion, "what amuses you so, Kai?"

"You," replied Kai, his mirth finally dying down, but leaving a satisfied grin on his face.

"I gathered that, but please, share."

"How much does it bother you to have waited so long for my demise, only to be deprived of the chance to torment me?" asked Kai, still smiling.

"Oh, I have been deprived of nothing Kai. There is still plenty of time… all the time in the universe, in fact." Said Prince, smiling.

"To answer your first question… it is treating me well. I spend my time here contemplating life."

"Do you now? And what is it you contemplate about life?"

"Many things. Recently, it has been my death. I've realized that it is unlikely I would have survived the implosion of the alien asteroid, decarbonized assassin or not. I was difficult to kill… but not even a divine assassin could withstand being crushed into an ultra-dense particle. Regardless of your intentions, you did a very, very out of character thing that day."

There was a pause as Kai turned his head, looking Prince directly in the eyes.

"You committed an act of kindness by allowing me to live, and to feel one last time before the end. I thank you for honoring your end of our deal." Kai put his hand on Prince's shoulder, whose smile had dropped somewhat.

"I'm not so sure Stan and Xev share your sentiment," said Prince, looking away and out over the ocean, "at this very moment they are being captured by forces loyal to His Divine Shadow, and will likely face tortures that only someone like me could imagine. Without you there to protect them… they have become very vulnerable. I have seen and heard many interesting things about this, 'Divine Order,' and so far mercy hasn't been mentioned; quite the contrary… I can only imagine what creative uses they'll put their individual parts to once their bodies lose the will to live."

Kai's hand dropped, and he resumed his previous stare out over the ocean.

"I sense that you do not lie, Prince."

"No Kai, I do not. I know how you feel... to be trapped somewhere, unable to leave. I know how you yearn to be there, to play the hero for those who haven't one. They will most certainly die, unless a miracle were to intervene."

"The dead do not dwell on that which they cannot help." Said Kai, lowering his gaze to his wrist, flexing the muscles that had once triggered his brace, its familiar presence gone.

"Oh, but you can help them, Kai," said Prince, leaning towards Kai so as to whisper in his ear, "I can save them. It is within my power to do so."

"You mean, 'it is within your interests' to do so. I haven't forgotten your vested interest in the most powerful weapon of destruction in the universe. If Stan dies, His Shadow will acquire the key to the Lexx. You will have no place in the Divine Order, much less in a universe devoid of human life, and thus devoid of Human suffering, for you to enjoy."

"Perhaps," said Prince, "and perhaps not. I have not been sitting on my hands all this time, Kai. I'm a fish in a much bigger bowl now… my power has grown, and so have my aspirations. On Earth I was bored… there was no resistance, no struggle, nothing to make my evil-doings interesting; that isn't to suggest I didn't have a grand time corrupting and tearing apart that little blue planet.
"But now, it is back to the way it was before. I and Duke war, sometimes against eachother, other times conquering good planets wherever they are to be found, and the rest of the time against the encroachment of His Shadows forces."

Prince paused as he withdrew a small vial of water, and proceeded to take a miniscule sip before replacing the stopper and returning it.

"What makes it most enjoyable are the stakes," Prince continued, "on Fire, it was nothing more than a game. No matter how much I or Duke gained, it would eventually be lost in the great balancing act. He would destroy my city, I would destroy his… only to have our losses restored, or spoils stolen. We knew none of it mattered, but I enjoyed it, all the same. Even if he did not quite share my appreciation for it. Apart from chaos, evil, and destruction, I enjoy struggle... but Duke on the other-hand, he enjoys winning.

Kai sat silently, listening to what Prince had to say.

"However, now there is no cosmic force to level out our playing fields... there are no unbreakable rules, besides the fact that we cannot suffer a permanent death. Now, the reassuring repetition is gone, and there is no force to balance out the evil that is slowly consuming the 'Dark Zone', as you call it. Hundreds of thousands of planets before me... evil and tyranny everywhere I turn; its almost as if I emerged from that insignificant solar system, only to be greeted by a feast that has been waiting for me since the beginning of time. To top it off, we face an adversary almost as sadistic as we are, even if I personally find their worship of order to be distastful."

"What is it you want?" asked Kai, finally deciding to cut Prince's speech short.

"What I want Kai, is for you to join me," he said, and now it was his turn to look Kai directly in the eyes, "what I offer you in return, is to save Stan and Xev from their certain deaths in, 'the Cluster'. After I hold up my end of the bargain, it will be your turn to hold up yours; I will bring you back, and on my behalf you shall fight Duke and the Divine Order. I want to make you a vital piece in a very complex game of chess that is going on right now, and which will decide the fate of this universe."

"No." Kai answered immediately.

"What do you mean, 'no,'? You haven't even taken any time to consider my offer."

"I don't need to." said Kai, looking upwards towards the cloudless skies above the illusion that was Brunnus-2.

"Oh? Why might that be, Kai? Do you no longer care about Stan or Xev? Here I was believing that your lack of 'motivation' as a divine assassin was incidental of your dead state. If I knew you were always heartless, I would have given you credit for it."

"I don't need to," said Kai, "because you are wrong."

"Wrong about what, dear Kai?" asked Prince, his irritation beginning to show at the Brunnen-G's abstinence.

"There is balance." Kai stated simply, leaving it at that.

"I never took you for a silent philosopher, Kai. Surely you don't believe that, after everything you have seen."

"I know what I have seen Prince," said Kai, "but you do not. You see only that which you choose to see. You are a single-minded, inflexible being, bent towards one predilection and one predilection alone. You cannot help it, you cannot understand it... you can only embrace it. While you are evil without remorse, you are likewise folly without regret. You are something that can't be reasoned with or controlled... something that once, long ago, was imprisoned in the play pen you've known as Water and Fire. There is nothing 'god' or deity-like about you, Prince... only the tragic existence of an inherent child who cannot grow beyond himself.

Prince sat there for a moment, as if pondering what it was Kai had to say, then stood up.

"Have it your way Kai. Stan and Xev will die, and I will not extend this offer again."

With that, Prince turned and walked away.

"Prince," Kai called out, "I forgive you for everything you are, because I know that you cannot help it. Know this though; you will be destroyed one day, and on that day you will be afraid."

Prince laughed and didn't turn around, his figure slowly vanishing from sight as it departed from the Other Zone.

Kai looked after the figure for a while, then turned his attention back to the waters of Brunnus-2. Although left uncertain, Kai knew that neither of them had won this round.