Part 38: Midnight to Nowhere
End what, exactly? Has Rabies even been given a goal outside of 'eventually meet with Velasquez'?
I didn't run into anybody on my way back. Perhaps they branched out in search of food. And for a moment, I wonder where Jade was. Acheron didn't mention her -- she must be with Singe.
Maybe Reiyo would know what happened to me earlier. If he was giving up The Ark -- I'd need answers -now-. There's a chance I might never see him again.
I turn a few corners and arrive back where I started. I take a deep breath before I enter the room. This might be my final opportunity to get some answers.
Doesn't seem like hard work when he can control the fabric of time and space.
Archeron was won, unless of course this is an Armstrong-brand UltraBunker, which is designed to vent deadly gas into all the rooms at the first sign of intruders. It's a safety feature!
What do you mean 'this is it'? We still got two more chapters of this crap.
And thanks to you, we'll never know how hilarious/horrific Max's reign as God would be! <>
He laughs, like it was all so easy. And maybe it was -- at least to him. He's one of the smartest men I've ever met.
Or would cunning be the better word? Well, I'm sure that many words would describe this man. But soon enough -- he'd be The Ark's new master. At least he'd be more open with me than the last one.
Just under a minute, now. I'd love to see the look on Max's face. And it wasn't karma -- it was me.
This was a lesson long in the making. You hear about killing to seize power. But death is not always the answer.
So that nerve gas that melted their skin off. Who was that supposed to protect?
Max in The Ark would be a disaster. Her philosophy is proof of that. She'd usher in a new "Dark Age".
I didn't do this just for me. I did it to save the world from suffering. You could say that I'm a savior, too.
I'll do what my parents always wanted. I'll make this world a better place.
A place where I'm proud to be an Armstrong.
Who carries a pocket watch on their person? Remember, because of Klace's birthday this game apparently takes place in the 2040s or so.
Time to see if this was worth fighting for.
I press my back against the wall and ready myself. I've experienced this enough to know what it feels like. Acheron remains still -- standing tall and proud. I guess in his mind, he had nothing left to fear.
I like to think that Acheron isn't actually that strong, it's just that Rabies is a complete weenie.
How could he withstand so much pain? I look at his eyes, and spot a faint glisten. Perhaps it would be best if I do what he did. I stand up straight, and focus on my breathing.
We stand there -- united, both waiting for Reiyo. I feed off his energy until I no longer feel suffering.
A free trip to the Bahamas!*
*ᵃᶰᵈ ᵃᶫˢᵒ ᵍᵒᵈʰᵒᵒᵈ
He turns to me and smiles softly.
And it's nice to see you, Rabies. I knew you wouldn't be too far behind.
Acheron and I exchange glances, as if in waiting.
So -- what happens next? I'm sure what there's lots to teach me.
'Talk at' would probably be a better choice of words.
Do you think we could go back to The Ark? I feel safer discussing things there. And I'd like to see my home one last time.
I look at Acheron, and he nods. I see no problem granting Reiyo this request. It's not like things would be any different than normal.
Thank you ver ymuch.
I not that this time he asks us for permission. Definitely different than the Reiyo I first met. It was nice to know that we finally had a say in things. Almost like we completed some rite of passage.
"How big is The Ark? Because I'm an American citizen, and if this plane extends in all directions forever than that means I'll probably end up owing infinity dollars in property taxes."
Of course -- what is it?
You can see a lot from The Ark, right? You have a grasp on what we're all doing.
If you're observant enough, yeah. It's a skill that you hone in time.
Do you know what happened to Max? And if Singe and Dazz are safe?
What kind of horrible rant do you think she went on when she got arrested?
"You can't arrest me! I'm Maxine Fucking Armstrong! I have lawyers! JEW LAWYERS!"
Good. Let's hope she doesn't escape. Are you taking the power away from her?
I think I'll let her keep it, actually.
Because there's absolutely, positively, 100% guaranteed no way a person who can stop time can escape from prison. That's not even touching on the fact that Max is eventually going to have to show up in a courtroom for sentencing, where she could easily escape with her powers.
What the hell does Klace think prisons are? They don't just drop people in a box and forget about them.
Reiyo, you can clearly go wherever the hell you want.
It's not like she could escape by stopping time to hold a guard hostage, or stop time to instantly enter open doors, or stop time to build improvised weapons, or stop time to build tunnels, or stop time to escape while in the exercise yard, or stop time to steal a guard's weapon or anything.
I wouldn't worry too much about her. She's useless where she is. That's probably what you wanted, anyway.
Acheron nods, showing no facial expression. I'm unsure how he is taking this information. But if I could take a guess -- I'm sure he was happy.
Well then, shall we go? I can't suspend places for long, remember. And you don't want to be trapped like this.
Probably because the recent events made no sense.
Yes, of course you'll get answers. There's nothing left for me to hold back. All your our plans have come to fruition.
What does he mean by "our plans"? Was he playing at something, too?
Both of you -- close your eyes. When you open them, you'll witness change. And the gears will make their final turn.
Second home? How many times has Rabies been there? Twice?
But if everything was truly coming to an end? This might be the last chance I get to see it. I have to make sure that I leave with satisfaction. The true nature of everything had to be revealed.
I take a deep breath before I open my eyes.
"Question: why does this place look like one of the default wallpapers for Windows XP?"
He gestures broadly at the vast space surrounding us.
So many memories. I hope you'll create some good ones, too.
I'm ready for this burden, Reiyo. Let's start with bringing some people back. There were those who didn't need to die.
Of course, but not so fast. I have to teach you how things work. Otherwise, you'd only cause damage.
You'd think a place like this would come with an instruction manual.
Oh hey, there is one. Oh crap, it's in Esperanto.
I see -- so what do we do first? There's no need to hesitate any further.
Is Acheron getting impatient? I don't think I've seen him like this before. I can't blame him though, if his goal is so close.
Don't worry, we'll begin soon. I need to talk to Rabies first. His journey is coming to an end.
You've claimed your victory, Acheron. You've seized your destiny. Rabies still needs to do so.
I understand. The Savior's duty is not yet complete. But what exactly -is- that duty...?
I have reason to believe it affects me. The Ark may even be at stake. I don't want my rule to be cut short, Reiyo.
But just to be safe, Acheron is still going to keep wearing his kevlar vest .
And as such, it will always need a ruler. Yo uwon't be going anywhere anytime soon. You're here for the long haul, Acheron.
But as for the nature of Rabies' task? I'm afraid I don't even know that much. There is only one person who does.
And that's who I'll be sending him to. I'd relax while you can, Acheron. After that, I have to teach you everything.
Very well -- take your time. I won't intrude, I'll just wait around.
"Like a Rubix cube? Because I'll warn you right now: I shoot what I don't understand."
Reiyo snaps his fingers and Acheron grunts in pain. He stumbles back, his eyes shooting wide open.
Wh-what is this...? I can't see anything, Reiyo!
He starts panicking, looking around frantically.
And like opening 500 applications at once, Acheron's brain crashes.
Use it to watch over those you love. I won't be too long with Rabies. When I get back -- I'll give you more.
I can see so many people. But wait -- this isn't Earth. What am I looking at, Reiyo?
You must be watching over Terra. Perhaps you desire something there. Don't worry, it fluctuates at first.
Enjoy the view, Acheron. I won't keep you waiting too long. Prepare for some rigorous training.
That is, no answers at all.
I'm sorry for the dishonesty I've given you. You deserve the truth from now on. And that's exactly what you'll get.
After we're done talking, I'll go back. Acheron has to go through lots of training. I need to feel comfortable when I leave.
I just didn't want him listening in. This started between the two of us. It's only fitting that it ends that way.
He gives me a warm smile before he continues.
I kind of figured they probably weren't on the side of good, what with the black armor and bloody spikes.
They might seem relatively "new" to you. But for me, it's been quite a while. Let me see how I can explain this.
Everything I've done -- I did to help you. Including my surrender of The Ark. It was the last thing I wanted to do.
But there is great power within you. As both Velasquez and Nagi have stated. Power enough to deliver salvation.
Or destruction, if put in the wrong hands. That is what Nami and Nagi strive for. And to be honest -- they almost had it.
So Rabies is basically an energy pinata?
They sought to harness the power within you. Likely -- to achieve some nefarious goal. Destruction of an infinite scope, I'd wager.
Most people wouldn't be able to do this. But they possess a special set of weapons. Weapons that allow them to use this energy.
What is the energy, you ask? That is something I can't tell you. Velasquez will have to explain it.
Regardless of that, it was unleashed. For a moment -- they had won. They could achieve anything they wanted.
So nobody could point and laugh at your shoestring shirt?
The power spread, like a huge wave. It had potential to span the entire galaxy. But the first place it touched -- was here.
I felt it within me. I was in awe of how strong it was. How could one person house this power...?
But I had to snap back to reality. They weren't unleashing it peacefully. I had to do something to help.
When it reached me, I tapped into it. The powers it gave me were Godlike. But I wouldn't be blinded like them.
You mean you had an opportunity to end this horror we call existence and you turned it down?!
It amplified my ability to play with time. I was able to suspend -all- of Terra. A temporary fix -- but a fix nonetheless.
Their wave of destruction came to a halt. But I had to formulate a plan. I couldn't keep Terra frozen forever.
I needed to save all of you from Nagi. But I couldn't do that in suspension. I'm limited in my physical interactions.
I realized I'd need to leave The Ark. Not temporarily -- but for good. And I'd take a sliver of my power with me.
Rabies got a fucking sword driven through his chest. That is not a wound you 'tend to'.
Normally, leaving The Ark is impossible. But with this amplified power -- I could. I just needed to find a fitting ruler.
But now I'm getting a tad ahead of myself. I didn't want to force this duty upon you. So I send you back -- I gave you a choice.
Yeah, about that. Why did Rabies apparently skip over everything after buying the soda?
I knew you wouldn't back down. You're not that kind of person. But it wouldn't be right to assume.
I'm glad you agreed to partake, Rabies. It meant my plan was free to move forward. Watch you -- and find myself a new ruler.
I picked Acheron and Max, of course. I let them battle for a spot in The Ark. I'm sure you know how that ended up.
I wish I didn't have to give up The Ark. I rather like it here -- I really do. But it was necessary to protect you.
I think corruption charges are the least of the crimes Maxine's going to get convicted of.
Using the world tour as a front, no less. I was honored to witness such genius. I knew that The Ark had a worthy ruler.
So there you have it -- my game plan. I used your power to freeze Terra. I gave you a choice, and held a contest.
Acheron used this contest to his advantage. He achieved his own goal, and won The Ark. Free of ownership, I can now go to Terra.
I'll save you and your friends from Nagi. And then you can journey right to Velasquez. He'll help your journey come to an end.
Rabies' brain is bluescreening at this dumbassery, much like mine is.
I know it's all confusing, isn't it...? The timelines don't exactly ad up. I mean -- what was the inciting incident?
Was it you getting stabbed by Nagi? Or was it you winning the contest? It seemed they happened simultaneously.
But they couldn't happen without each other. One required the other, and vice-versa. I've debated it for a long time, myself.
Klace, admitting that a plot point doesn't make sense doesn't in any way diminish the fact that it still doesn't make sense. You see this a lot from amateur writers, where they basically ask the reader to come up with a plausible explanation, since they couldn't think of one.
I mean -- why a pop idol's world tour? It seemed like peculiar venue. But I only re-created what I knew.
And that's where it gets interesting. Does that mean I created it to begin with? A self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak?
Hm -- I'll probably never knoew. Let me see what else I need to tell you. I have to make sure I don't hold back.
He tilts he head up and ponders. My mind is still trying to process all of this. This all happened because Nagi stabbed me? The world tour, the contest, the killings...
All of it was to help Reiyo break free. He wanted the chance to save us from Nami and Nagi. The final use of his power would be spend on all of us. I can't believe he's been hiding this the whole time.
Also, Terra is Furry Hell, though that's been pretty obvious for a while.
Loyalty? As far as I know, those two idiots didn't even know you existed.
Alive and well until the next mugging or plague, that is.
And look where that got Endymion.
Everybody so far has achieved their goals. That is -- except for you, Rabies. You must pay one last visit to Terra.
Velasquez will tell you -everything-. And you can finally become The Savior. This is what you were meant to do.
Perhaps, you can bring back the lost. If I could turn back time with your power. I can't even imagine what you're capable of.
And everything that's happened so far? It was all to save you from Nagi's blade. In that instant -- it all came together.
HEAR THAT, PHIDGET? YOUR MOM WAS A COBBLESTONE ON THE ROAD TO PROGRESS!
Or, hear me out, you let everything burn.
It's time for you to save Terra. Don't let all of this sacrifice be in vain.
That's the only thing I want in return. Please -- live out your duty as Savior. The lives of so many rest on your shoulders.
I watched what happened in the bunker. Some of your friends opened up to you. But their stories are in no way unique.
Everybody has a story of their own. But without you, they will end. Please -- help all of them continue.
Can Rabies please suplex this guy for being an annoying ~mysterious~ asshole? Can we at least have that?
You know, I'm going to miss it here. I forgot what this place looked like. But then -- I gave Acheron my sight.
It's beautiful, isn't it?
He smiles at me, as he fades away even more.
And for the first time -- I got to see you. Now I know what our Savior looks like.
And he looks like hope.
And also to teach Acheron how to conduct natural disasters without accidentally blowing up the moon.
What is it with Klace's obsession with describing movement with the word 'inertia'?
Rabies had been wondering why his thoughts had been feeling...Kila-y lately.
Kila: too shitty to even be accepted by Furry Hell.
I sincerely doubt you can actually count that high.
It's driving me insane to hear all of that. Thankfully, it stopped when you came. And I really am glad to see you again.
I nod at him in return, and tell him it's true. Everything that Reiyo said was the truth. I've been juggling that fate for a while, now.
Wow -- that's kind of heavy. Although, Max did hint at it. Over the loudspeaker, I mean.
I'm sorry I couldn't tell you it was her. She threatened to blow up the building. I had to hide it in order to keep you safe.
Funnily enough, it wasn't the murders and war crimes that got Max arrested. She just had about a thousand unpaid parking tickets in Tokyo.
He clenches his fists, in visible anger.
I'd never believe this if I wasn't there. I feel like I'm stuck in purgatory. So I have to open my mind a little bit.
But all of this is so extraordinary. To be honest, my brother would've loved it. He was really into all that anime stuff.
His brother, huh? I believe he mentioned that back on day one. On the train -- he said he was visiting his brother.
Hey look, another character that lied to us.
And Max knew all about my lies. She said you'd all hate me if I told you. So opening up was the last thing I wanted.
But at the same time -- we're friends. I mean we won the same contest, after all. We were going to have so much fun.
I don't even know why you picked Rook. And I'm not going to hate you for it. I lied to you a lot -- I deserved it.
Is it possible Rabies will save you? Yes. Will Rabies waste his time rezzing an annoying blue squirrel? Odds aren't looking good.
Replace 'fool' with 'tool' and you'll be talking sense.
Rabies ain't got time for your jibba jabba.
I think we're better off not knowing, Kila. You'd probably just be digging yourself a deeper hole.
Buckle in folks, now we get to know every aspect of Kila's horrific life.
Well, it's kind of a long one. But it involves how I won the contest. It all started a few years ago.
I know you won't hate me for this. I had my reasons -- as you'll find out. And I only ever did it out of love.
You see -- I kind of had a brother. He used to be my best friend. We were inseparable, no matter what.
Some people say twins are like that. He was older than me -- but by minutes. Our parents would always confuse us.
Terminal Furrydom, 4th stage?
It was cancer -- and terminal, too. The doctors gave him five years to life. He couldn't even leave the hospital.
But I'd visit him every single day! He'd always have his ear-phones in. I told him it was rude -- he didn't care.
He liked the sound of pop music, he said. It was always so upbeat and bubbly.
Again, a throwaway line indicates this game takes place around 2040. Who the fuck would still have CDs?
When life's got you down and even music can't cheer you up anymore, remember that nihilism is always waiting for you with its cold, empty embrace.
That is -- until the contest was announced. He was so full of happiness and joy. He'd get to meet the people he idolized.
But at that point, he was bedridden. So every day -- I'd buy two cans. We share them, hoping that he'd win.
Of course, it was all a pipe dream. I still remember buying the last cans. I went to see him -- and his room was empty.
Assuming Kila was probably next of kind, wouldn't they have called him when he died?
but that's where I've been dishonest. And this is what I've kept from all of you.
My brother -- his name was Kila. That's right, I've been lying all along. My real name is Eddie, and I'm sorry.
Yep! Kila's real name is Eddie, and he stole his dead brother's identity. What's beautiful about this game is that every time you think it can't get worse, it magically does.
The day I found his room empty? I didn't know what to do with myself. I sat there anyway, and drank the PopStarr.
And wouldn't you know it -- I won. I sat there crying for hours. Why couldn't it have been a day earlier?
I decided not to let it go to waste. I wouldn't rob him of his final dream. He deserved to experience what he wanted.
Other than the fact that the person whose identity you stole was fucking dead. That's not even getting into the fact that if Eddie did somehow pull off impersonating Kila, people would still be wondering where the hell Eddie went.
This way -- he'd get what he wanted. I know it doesn't make much sense. But it did in my head at the time.
He starts to cry in front of me. So he came here to fulfill his brother's dying wish? That's really noble of him -- I respect that. But I'm still taken aback by his true identity.
Is it even legal to withhold that information?
Not everybody can stay strong with cancer. There are so many stories of people winning. It makes your forget that they can give up.
It turned out -- he lost all of his hope. He thought we'd never win the contest. And you'd never guess why.
He looks away from me, like he's scared to continue.
It's because -you- found the first can. He felt like his odds were getting worse. Until he felt like he didn't stand a chance.
It's like Willy Wonka's contest, except less people die.
Hey, we finally have some common ground!
His music reminds me of my brother. The smile he had when he listened to it. The smile that I'll never see again.
And it really is because of you.
He clenches his fists, and trembles angrily.
But there's really nothing I can do. My brother doesn't have room for hate. It's not in his nature to hold a grudge.
So it's not fair to lash out on you. If I'm being him -- I have to play the part. That's why I've been so overly friendly.
Eddie's plan here is like a 7 on the Norman Bates-o-Meter.
But I was constantly conflicted. Should I be kind to you like he would? Or should I be mad like -I- would...?
I guess it's pretty obvious what I chose. And I'm going to continue doing it. I'll be your friend -- for his sake.
Everything I've done -- was for him. Even now that I'm dead, I'll still do it. I'm never giving up this act of mine.
When we drank the PopStarr together? He'd always talk about potential winners. People he'd like to spend the tour with.
You know who your true friends are when they actually take you inside the emergency room when you OD as opposed to just dumping you outside the hospital.
But look at how it turned out. Maybe it's better that he wasn't here. He wanted happiness -- not this mess.
Even if he lived -- he would've died. That is assuming you still chose him.
I forgive you for letting me die, though. I lied to everybody, I was sketchy. I don't blame you for favoring Rook.
So that's the truth. I hated almost everything about this tour. And I hated it before it all went to Hell.
Could someone please check actual Kila's grave to see if Eddie hasn't dug it up and made a flesh mask out of the corpse?
Except -- there is one little thing. If you're open to hearing it, that is.
I nod, almost instinctively. I still can't believe this weird situation I'm in. He holds me responsible for Kila's death? But at the same time, is pretending to -be- him?
I can't imagine being in his situation. Staring at someone you hate -- and being their friend. Doing things you hate -- but pretending to love them. All in the name of his lost brother?
Eddie, Kila, whoever the hell you are, you aren't really in the position to be making demands.
He'll be able to live his dream. He'll be able to befriend you, too. And he'll see Tokyo like he's always wanted.
He'll get what you took from him. And this is a demand -- not a request. I don't even care if you leave me here.
He gives me a piercing gaze, and I nod. If it was at all within my power, I'd do it. He has my word that I'd bring Kila back.
That Congress was contemplating legislation to specifically ban him from karaoke is beyond the point!
What's Kila gonna do if we don't meet his demands? Haunt us? He's already technically doing that.
Thank you, Rabies. With your help -- he can find life again. That's something I could never hate you for.
But if you could bring us -both- back? Well -- I'd truly appreciate that.
I'd get to see him smile again.
Have fun in stock image purgatory, Kila!
Well, except for Phidget and his mom. Some things are a universal constant.
What I don't get is how Rabies can be smiling or have any positive emotions whatsoever when he's basically being passed around like a plot hot potato.