Part 23: Max Power
Once again, it's time to see Velasquez vomit exposition at a horse.
I fear my allies are turning against me. I'm just trying to help everybody, Dusk.
You've done a fine job of that, my Lord. You definitely have my allegiance.
For some reason I feel like Dusk is just yearning for the opportunity when peasants start forming their own goddamn soviets and he wiggles his way in as General Secretary.
To be fair to the population the Terra, the last time Velasquez had a big secret project it ended up with him killing thousands and opening one bar as a half-assed apology, presumably while going "oopsie poopsie".
I've been very quiet about my plans. And that means one important thing. People fill the cracks with imagination.
Their own thoughts make me a villain.
I really should stress that this is the guy who ordered Righty, Konrad, and Endymion to kill their own families to prove their loyalty.
The worst case scenario would be Terra being this all-encompassing third-world country that regularly suffers from famine and crime. Good thing that ain't the case!
They don't have this life of luxury. I think you should visit the people. Work in public relations would be great.
I'm not sure about public relations. No amount of that could fix what's coming.
Tell me, Dusk.
If you could do something truly amazing? Would you do it -- without hesitation?
Without a doubt.
What if the world hated you for it? They wouldn't see the good right away. No matter how beautiful things ended up.
I -- I'm not sure, my Lord. If it was good, it would be obvious. I don't see why people would hate.
Is Velasquez just plain ignorant of what a king does? We haven't actually seen him do anything even remotely regal, and the only info we know about him is that he's planning something really vague and important, which isn't a good sign considering his track record.
Somewhat ominous predictions about the end being near is a pretty good sign of a cult leader. Wonder where the punch bowl is?
And now -- I'm just not sure.
Do not let your resolve falter, my King. Especially not based on others' opinions. There are always those who would oppose you.
How often is the election for the kingship held? You'd think his experiment that killed pretty much all scientists on the planet would have cost him a few districts or something.
I'm afraid that is the only advice I have.
Velasquez is just thankful Dusk's advice this time wasn't "eat more oats and carrots".
You must think me foolish. "The Immortal King", doubting his actions. I'm supposed to know everything, aren't I?
I can understand, given your situation. Don't become who they think you are. You'll only end up losing your true self.
What self-help book did Velasquez pull this guy from?
For some reason Velasquez's dreadlocks makes me think he speaks in a Jamacian accent. Like, borderline impossible to understand accent and people only humor him when he talks.
Which means the perpetual angry mob hanging outside the castle might actually break in this week.
Meanwhile, in Furryspace, Max "The Geneva What?" Armstrong has a chat with Reiyo "The Shoe" Lastname.
I'm afraid you didn't Ms. Armstrong.
Yeah, Reiyo. You're talking to Max "Genocide is such a strong word" Armstrong here! You'd never convince her to harm people!
Yes, you do like to protect others. But this comes with something else...You understand the importance of death.
It is everywhere -- it is unavoidable. While all around us, it consumes us. The power of death is immeasurable.
Surely you've been touched by it as well. Perhaps you've lost someone dear to you. Someone you'd give anything to see again...
Even the lives of others, perhaps?
Who knew Max "Gaddafi was my best customer" Armstrong lost someone important to her?
Think of it this way, Max. You know what The Ark is capable of. You could bring an end to death as a whole.
That's what you want, isn't it? That's what your company is dedicated to? Protecting others, saving them from death?
Nobody would have to lose a loved one again. No one would experience the pain, the grief. Surely this is worth what I am asking.
How dare you insinuate that Max "Bosnia Breaker" Armstrong would ever kill somebody! <>
But think of the loved ones you've lost! Wouldn't you like to see them again? Bring them back -- have them full of life?
As opposed to bring them back empty of life?
There has to be some other way.
I'm afraid there isn't. You've been running from death for too long. It's time to embrace it, now. Live it.
The ruler of The Ark must not fear death. They cannot hesitate in the face of it. You have to confront it head on, Max.
Max "The Hague Can Kiss My Ass" Armstrong's weapons don't typically leave a lot to be preserved.
Unless you buy Armstrong-patented embalming fluid! Keep your enemy's head locked in a state of fear for all eternity!
It's true -- you protect people from death. But no matter what, death still exists. You need to gain a greater understanding.
Only then, will you be fit to rule. A ruler is a master of every avenue. Not just one, or a few.
A ruler can never "pretend". Until now, you've run away from death. To rule the Ark, you must master it.
I--I don't know what to say. This isn't something I should consider. But standing here, and seeing this place--
It gives your words more importance. This place is truly beautiful. But -- I'm not sure if this is worth it.
Max "Once Sold a Barrel Filled with Landmines, Nails, and Gasoline and Called it the Sudanese Souffle" Armstrong would love to put an end to death. The big problem with war is that eventually everyone runs out of people to kill. If nobody could die, just think of the markets she could break into!
But at the cost of more death...? I don't know if I want to stain my hands.
I never said it had to be you, Max. Remember the gear that I've given you. Using it -- "accidents" could happen.
Also, let's not be stupid here. You've used your products for your own gain. I can think of a few times without effort.
To be fair, Max "Can't Hear the Words 'Collateral Damage' Without Laughing Her Ass Off" Armstrong, your company logo is literally a picture of a hospital blowing up with you just shrugging in the foreground.
Give me a moment to think about it, please.
Of course. It's not an easy decision to make. By all means -- take your time.
The last thing she remembers is literally falling asleep, yet for whatever reason she isn't shrugging this off as an obvious dream.
(The current owner wants to leave. So he's taking time to seek a replacement. He'd told me that it controls time's flow. But he said it controls life and death, too.)
That means he can kill anyone he wants. Or he can keep those he likes alive. For some reason, I'm in this contest. But I have to prove my mastery over death.)
(Managing Armstrong is mastering life. I guess I need to see the other side. Maybe that's why he chose me, I'm halfway. First I mastered life -- and now, death.)
I'd like to put the "usually" in gigantic quote marks if I could. And what's more disturbing is that Max is actually looking forward to using weapons, presumably her own.
If what he said about The Ark is true? I can just resurrect those I've killed. In this case, it -is- just symbolic. My actions wouldn't be permanent.
Unless I lose, of course. But with all this power, I couldn't. Control of time -- and company assets. I don't think it's possible to lose. I'd have all the time in the world.
You're a genius, Max -- you can play him. Do what he wants, and then reverse it all.
Surprise! Our resident war criminal didn't have to deliberate very long to decide she's gonna become a murderer.
Given the powers of the cosmos, but still has to put up with flying. Them's the breaks.
For some reason I feel like this is followed by a humongous, annoyed sigh.
Gee, wonder who it could be. Who were we just shown cutting a deal with Reiyo, thereby spoiling the identity of the mysterious caller well before it becomes relevant?
My initial instinct was to show this to Acheron. But I couldn't reveal my powers to him just like that. In fact, I don't know who I could show this to. I'd likely have to keep this to myself, which was awful.
Why couldn't someone on -my- side have powers? Things have not gone my way since I returned to Terra. I suddenly long for the simpler times of yesterday. Back when my biggest worries were Rook and Kila. I long for the peace of what I had experienced.
I too yearn for the halcyon days when all we had to worry about was Kila saying something creepy and a bird dumping quantum bullshit on us.
I would think Rabies would be scared because of what Singe said.
But then I remembered, Singe wants to see me. Perhaps he could she some more light on all of this. Because of now -- I feel like a prisoner here. And that was -definitely- not in the contest terms.
I take a deep breath, as I go to leave the room. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a box on the floor. It has a small blinking light on it -- and it's red. I don't remember seeing that before the conference.
But that has to be one of the weapons.
Don't worry, Armstrong weapons only react to sudden movements and/or fear!