Monday, November 14, 2011
National Novel Writing Month 14
“Please at least consider what I'm saying,” Pax said. “I want to help you.”
“I don't need your kind of help. This is twice now you've shown up after I've fought a monster and attacked me. You do it again, and I'll know it's not an accident.” She took off, flying through that hole in the roof.
Arma walked back to Tilda's room. She hated this town. This so-called city. It was a symbol of just how far the the human race had fallen. There were no cars, no bustle. The only movement on the streets were bicycles and pedestrians. There was no sign of industry, no mark of the conquest of nature. It was pathetic.
Humans should have been grinding the world to dust under their heels, shaping it into a concrete garden, plundering its resources for their own gain. Her own people had turned their world into a paradise, perfectly suited to serving them. What else was a world for but to be used, after all.
Instead, without their influence, the humans were regressing. In just a few decades they'd hardly advanced at all, and the most important project, globalization and a single Earth government... that was nowhere to be seen. Humans were reverting to shattered and insular tribes, after all the work that had been done. Without that unity, they'd never achieve anything great.
She didn't even have a can to kick in frustration. She hadn't seen a can or paper plate since she had arrived. No sign of disposables anywhere except in the most basic forms. It was like the clock had stopped in 1954 and the technology and culture had simply stagnated there.
Arma shook her head. It was going to be a lot of work getting things back on track. She walked to the guest house and up the stairs. There, at the top, was Tilda's neighbor. What an annoying man. Arma started to walk past her. He held out an arm to stop her.
“Hey,” he said, angrily. “Don't just ignore me!” Arma rolled her eyes.
“What is it?” She asked. “I have some things I need to do.”
“You were the one who talked to me on the phone. You said you were going to come to me. What kind of game are you and Tilda playing with me?!” He shouted the last part. Arma raised an eyebrow.
“Yes. I remember. We did speak. Sorry, nothing personal,” He didn't move his arm. He glared at Arma.
“Nothing personal?! You call toying with someone's feelings 'nothing personal?'” He gritted his teeth. “You're a goddamn bitch, and so is your friend! You just set it all up to mock me and make fun of me! Did you like it, huh?! Did you have good goddamn laugh?!”
“I didn't set anything up. I was going to meet you, but...” Arma smiled. “Tilda was much more interesting. I could feel it even from outside the building. Sorry, but I guess you could say something better came up. It's not like I made a promise to you anyway. I don't see why you're upset.”
“Goddamnit!” He slapped Arma. “Don't make fun of me!” Arma blinked, surprised. She looked back at him. She didn't know if she was upset or angry. She was definitely confused, though. Did humans really have such emotional frailty?
“I see you wouldn't have been suitable anyway,” Arma said. “You are unstable.” She glared at him. “And you have the gall to raise a hand to your betters. You would be a poor servant.”
“Don't call me a servant! You're just a bitch, you're not better than me!” He raised a hand to slap her again. Arma backhanded him before he could, using her greater-than-human strength to full effect. He was spun completely around, spitting out blood.
“Don't speak like that to me, human,” Arma said. “You're pathetic. If you touch me again I will kill you in an instant and it will be no effort at all.” She put her hands on her hips and stood over him. “Remember your place and who you're speaking to.”
Tilda's neighbor cursed as he lay on the ground, picking himself up and retreating back into his apartment. Arma waited for him to leave.
“Pathetic,” she muttered.
Tilda landed on the roof of the guest house. It was perhaps a bit obvious, but there wasn't a monster hunting her now and she didn't feel like walking the whole way. Deactivating Krieg, she hopped down to her door and walked in. Arma hadn't bothered locking when she got back.
“You got away!” Arma said, happily, running over to Tilda and hugging her as she got in. “I was so worried about you! That thing you were fighting was awful. Did you get hurt?”
“Yeah,” Tilda said, distracted. She awkwardly returned the hug then pulled herself away. “My arms hurt like a bitch.” She held them up. She had shallow cuts on them from Pax's blade. They weren't deep, and the bleeding had already stopped, but they stung.
“Let me take care of those.” Arma pulled her into the kitchen and made her sit in a chair. “I have a first-aid kit.” Arma got to work applying an ointment and then bandages. The ointment made it itch, but then as the itch faded, she felt cool relief.
“Thanks,” Tilda said, as Arma wrapped her arms in the clean fabric. The alien was surprisingly gentle. “Arma...” Tilda pursed her lips. “What Pax was saying, about how you wanted to... take over the world, and how we'd be better off without you...”
“It's a matter of perspective,” Arma admitted. “He means what he's saying, but he's looking at it the wrong way. We have different goals. He wants humans to stand on their own, I and my people want to, well, use humans. But not to hurt them. It's more like... how you'd want to raise a child instead of leaving it on its own.” Arma stood up and started pacing. She seemed to do that whenever she was starting to lecture.
“So you see us as children?”
“Yes. In a lot of ways you're like children. A younger version of us.” She paced. “And we want you to grow up right, and to avoid making the mistakes we made. It's a perfectly natural instinct.” Arma sighed. “Really, I suppose it shouldn't be surprising. Your own children rebel when their parents try to make them into functioning members of society. It's ingrained in your beings, I suppose.”
“Oh, and you've got a better way?”
“I don't know if it's better,” Arma shrugged. “My kind doesn't care for its children the way yours does. Education and child care are just industry. It's not nearly as sentimental as you mammals. In fact, I'll grant that it's one of the things your kind is better at. We were going to have your people raise our children, but I don't think that ever panned out.”
“Really?” Tilda raised an eyebrow.
“Credit where credit is due. Mammals seem to be very good at raising children. And it would help our people become closer.”
“No, I mean, you'd really just adopt your children out to another race? That seems... reckless.”
“You let teachers instruct your children. We don't see it as any different.”
“Whatever,” Tilda said. She stood up. “I'm going to make some tea before bed.”
Across the city, in the abandoned warehouse where Krieg had defeated the Verbesserte, a man in black knelt down over the body of the woman who had been transformed into a monster and killed by another monster. He brushed a loose lock of hair back from the woman's face.
“Getting sentimental, Ser?” The man in black didn't look back. Geruda leaned in the open door of the warehouse. “She was useless. Your Verbesserte didn't even rack up much of a body count. What did you end up with, five people killed?”
“Six,” Ser mumbled, as a correction.
“Only a fraction of what I was able to do, and you had much longer to do it.” Geruda sighed and walked inside. “At this rate, I don't have anything to worry about. You'll never win the Grand Melee.”
“It's about quality, not quantity,” Ser said. He stood up to face Geruda. “I destroyed one of the greatest threats to us. All you did was randomly slaughter a few dozen people. I have plans for this place, and indiscriminate slaughter isn't the way to get anything done.”
“But slaughter is fun!” Geruda said, giggling. “I love it when the streets are filled with bodies. Besides, these people all deserve to die. They're pathetic mammals.” She flexed, assuming her true reptilian form. “Trying to treat them as anything except slaves is pathetic.”
“You don't appreciate how we could use them.” Ser shook his head and transformed into his natural shape.
“We don't need to use them. Using them got too many people killed last time.” She circled Ser. “We should just reform this world and be done with it. Maybe if any of them survive the reforming, we can keep them as pets.”
“If you win the Grand Melee you're free to do that,” Ser said, with a shrug. “I'm sure that would make a lot of people happy. But I plan on fixing things in my own way. Ruling openly through terror instead of from the shadows. That will keep them in line and give us servants to use.”
“And if you want to win, you'll have to work harder.” Geruda laughed.
“Neither of you is winning,” a third voice put in. Geruda and Ser looked up. A man wearing all black with sunglasses was sitting on the lip of the warehouse's broken roof. “Arma's champion has defeated both of yours, and that counts for more than either of you has managed so far.”
“Messer, you haven't even chosen a champion yet,” Ser said. “So don't give us that nonsense.”
“Still not good with shaping your eyes?” Geruda asked. Messer took off his sunglasses. Unlike the other two's human guises, his eyes were still totally inhuman.
“I don't like taking this shape anyway,” Messer said. “It's weak and ugly.”
“I think we can all agree on that,” Ser said, nodding.
“Anyway, the old ways worked,” Messer said. “We just have to be more careful. More information control and less gifting of our technology to them.” He looked up at the sky. “I'm going to go and make my own Verbesserte. If I can beat Krieg, that should assure me the win in the Grand Melee.”
“So it is Krieg,” Ser said. “You're sure of it?”
“Yeah,” Messer said, nodding. “I'm sure. And there's another one, too. It's even worse.”
“I felt that one,” Ser agreed. “And unlike Krieg, it's not under our control.”
“Not that Krieg is,” Geruda said. “Arma has gone rogue. Or native. Or something. She's way too soft on these mammals. If she has her way, we'll be treating them as equals instead of as the animals they are. She sickens me.”
“She may sicken you, but if she wins you'll be following her orders,” Messer said.
“I'd rather die first!” Geruda growled. “I will never pretend these things are anything like real people.” She kicked Clare's corpse, rolling it over. “They're weak and stupid and they bite the hand that feeds them.”
“Hm,” Messer muttered. “Well, then. I guess I'll have to kill Krieg to make you happy.” He smiled.