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[ The world and the Hitomi turn black at once.

Slow, at first. Dim.

Crackle-fizz of static. Vertigo: you feel it, as if your brain and the Hitomi are syncing somehow. As if the flashes -- silent, without thunder, serpentine coils of brightness from a silent film -- signal a change in the air, in your bones and in your mind.

Ever peer out the window, in your childhood, and believe that you saw something stirring amidst the rain-soaked tree limbs?

A movement, perhaps. A fleeting spot of illumination in a shadowed world.

But, certainly, what you saw was only the product of your rapid imagination and a flash-bulb haunt of shadows.

Leaves stirring in the breeze. Paper flapping. Something like that, perhaps.

When the world goes dark again, the lightning takes its freeze-frame world with it. Passes on through time. And you forget that you ever felt unease. You forget that you think you saw something which did not belong to this universe.

So you close your eyes.

You return to sleep, and let the storm pass -- content in the knowledge that what you saw may be easily explained. Natural phenomena. You rest within your cozy bed.

This would be if you had ever been a normal child.

We in Kannagara know better, do we not?

Child soldiers. Children raised in laboratories. Trained to fight and kill. Murdered parents. Murderers. Fighting aliens. As you watch the lightning, the memories wash over you.

A wave of sensation, smooth and chilled, like a long drink of iced beverage -- like submersion in the coldness of the ocean. In the middle of the ocean, you are afloat.

In our childhoods, the monsters were, all too often, real.

And you are remembering these things now. The monsters you have faced. The adversities you have had placed against you. Your fears. They may coalesce, consciously, or you may merely feel a sense of deprivation. That you were not the child, or perhaps the adult, who could merely return to the comfortable sleep. For something is lurking.

Stopping you. And it must be, you are certain -- it must be whatever came out of your childhood. Whatever followed you.

It is not dead.

It is not alive.

Open your eyes.

Look out the window again.

Then, it passes.

The lightning vanishes. And you are not certain of what you just saw or felt. A hiccup of time.

Was it just storming? Or was it all a dream? (There are many of those in Kannagara.)

You feel you have woken up, somehow.


On the screen, you see a man. A man with a dark complexion, perhaps Egyptian or from thereabouts, with a suit and a tie and a felt hat. He is holding a suitcase, and he doffs the hat affably.

Says: ]

Well, I apologize for that disturbance. A moment of housekeeping, you see.


Shall I present to you my card? [ It appears in his hand. Standard business size. Red print. Elegant and looping, you can see, but blurred over the screen. ] My name and my employer, dear gentlemen and ladies.

I've come, of course, to sell you the deal of a lifetime.

You see, I have been around for a while. A good, long while. And through the annals of human history, it has been my observation that humankind -- that, really, all animal kind, if you will pardon this phrasing -- subsists off predation.

You know, that grisly business of chasing down a gazelle and ripping its throat out or fighting for territory or a mate or building nu~cle~ar bombs.

Or that most violent act of predation: creating ideologies. Religion, for instance.

Tell the poor they'll have their reward in heaven so they won't destroy the ruling classes! It's all very clever, isn't it?

Or perhaps bring many people to another world and placate them with words of harmony.


Kind of funny how none of you can ever be harmonious enough for these gods, isn't it?

I think a Mr. Marx once used the phrase the opiate of the masses. Great fellow! I had lunch with him once. Although I do believe he thought I was someone else. (Ah, people commonly mistake my identity. Comes from having ten-thousand faces. [ chuckle! ])

Ah, but no, you see.

You see, the truth is, predation is really the oldest form of survival and establishing society.

You were, if I'm being honest here --

[ Dramatic! Conspiratory! Look! Very somber, and he holds his hand up as if whispering in your ear. ]

-- brought to this world to train to become soldiers.

Which is why so many militant people were selected. And crazies, like that Joker fellow. [ Ah, he brought a good laugh, didn't he? ] Why, it's all a process of elimination. And we're eliminating you as we speak. That's the purpose of this little -- oh, um. Nightmare business. [ Piffle. Wave of the hand. The gods here are so pointlessly showy, aren't they? ]

Testing your mettle and all that.

Look, dolls, you're not cutting it. You Noah need to kill those Exorcists faster if you want to go home or get goodies. You mafia types need to battle it out and stop stinking the place up with hypocrisy, those of you who insist you're somehow not aiding that grand ol' predation theory. You vampire and samurai gals need to get the blood flowing a bit more.

And you crazy shape-shifters. Well, that's a decent business with the decapitation and all, but really, let's hop to, fellows?

Don't you want to become -- say, an asura? Return to your home? Gain your loved ones back?

Oh, the rewards are many. But we don't tolerate weakness, not here. You're just asking to get eaten if you won't take a bite out of those near you.

I'm only saying this as a friendly warning?

Things will ♬ get worse.


(Deleted comment)
Nov. 14th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)

By a relative and human value of "worse," yes.

It's not worse for me; I can tap-dance between the stars whenever I please to my master's flutes, but for you? Oh, absolutely.

It is a shame you wasted all your time with those shrines and tributes and nonsense. Those gods can't get enough flattery.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 19th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC)
That's a good question, isn't it?

I guess one thing I have over those chaps is that I can produce -- and have already produced -- direct and immediate rewards for people who have made deals with me.

I can't guarantee the gods won't fuck with what I give, but I can guarantee that I can help people tangibly get ahead.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 24th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
All kinds! Depends on what you want.

My ability to give is just limited by the gods' ability to take.
(Deleted comment)


Kannagara - The Way of the Gods

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