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The Bicarbonite pools were massive. Six small, manmade oceans of it filled the majority of the western edge of the planet. It was manufactured using Bicilite and the liquids frozen in the rocks encircling the planet that made up its disc and that continued pounding Bochetz into pieces. Bochetz was made up entirely of Bicilite. It was the first planet Okmar had found in his decade of travel that contained his home planets general make up. When the Bicarbo, (the frozen rocks), hit the surface of Bochetz it would do so at insane temperatures and melt its way into a clear liquid form. The cats of Bochetz would then suck up the liquids with machines provided by the Men in Suits and transport them back to rock where they would fill these pools. An endless supply of the stuff reflected the heat of the Stungett like seven huge white polka dots. You could see them glowing from far out into space. Once one witnessed the capability of such small amounts of this liquid, as Okmar had in his past, one would have a lot of trouble wrapping ones head around what these seven small oceans of the stuff could accomplish. In truth, Okmar’s obsession with the stuff had gone from - I must have it - to - no one else must have it. It began to make him paranoid and the amount of information now stored inside his mortal brain had begun to reach his limit and create physical and mental breakdowns. Greed seemed to be rearing its ugly consequences.
When the fluth shuttle was still in the air and Z and I were involved in our battle I could sense these giant pools. Their contents pulled at me mentally and physically much as the rocks encircling the planet had when they hit the hull of the ship and ultimately created this situation. Although outlandish, I knew this liquid and I shared something unexplainable. This transformation occurred when I crashed in one of the much smaller storage pools on Bochetz when I first arrived. That seemed like so long ago now. I died. I didn’t really believe it before but I believed it wholly now. My body and mind were changing and I couldn’t yet understand exactly how or why. A strong sense of anticipation fired around my brain. My hope was to get Church to one of these small oceans before all hope was lost. Maybe he hadn’t been dead long enough for the liquid to work its magic.
I could feel one nearby. I stumbled over the peak of a large drift of powder thin sand and came into view of the first pool. My jaw slowly came unhinged. I blinked sweat out of my eyes that burned and cried for moisture. Church hung limp on my shoulder. I couldn’t believe how huge it was. I couldn’t believe how still it was. An entire reflection of the heavily decorated night sky reflected off the liquids glass like surface with perfect clarity. I watched the reflection of a shooting star jet by and disappear into the thick darkness of the pool. I stumbled forward and fell heavily. The decline was steep enough to flip me head over heels four times. Church had come free of my shoulder but had thankfully made his way far enough down the hill to not warrant much of a climb back up to retrieve him. I frantically grabbed him by the tail and ran towards the pool, every second feeling more refreshed and powerful. I stumbled over a rock, took four more off balance steps and fell into the liquid cradling Church in my arms. There was no splash. There was shocking coldness. And then away we went for one last Bicarbonite ride.
Our first stop had been… the pools. No. That isn’t right. Our first stop had been the Torgon islands. We promised the Torgots trade before killing them for their weapons. Efficient and powerful weaponry developed by genius, peaceful, naive creatures with no defense. Sad really. It looked to me like they were just asking for it. Our intentions were to take the pools out from… Not the pools. What…?
Okmar’s good eye opened groggily. He glanced dreamily over at the empty glass on the coffee table. The words came again. They echoed in his spinning mind as, ever so quietly, other voices began to claw their way from the darkness of silence. ‘The Pools,” the voice came again. Okmar’s brow furrowed. How had he fallen into such a stupor during these critical times? Why had his complex, constantly evolving super mind shut down to replay the story of his life while, according to the influx of panicked shouts, screams of pain, sharp direction and desperate pleas the war had been occurring for some time now. He jerked up into a sitting position and his orbital extension squirmed its way out of his right eye socket loudly and wetly. A glob of slime slipped over the lower edge of the socket and ran slowly down his cheek. He did not notice. He focused himself to organize and search for particular thoughts. His talents of doing so grew every second. He could even rewind unconscious thoughts to a certain extent. He did this now and came to Z’s desperate pleas and warnings of approaching failure. Murphy was headed to the Bicarbonite pools on the west edge of the boundary. Kevin had sent Onun after him. Bohspox and Andelad Mott had successfully reached the control tower. Bor and the cats had begun their battle in the Protagonist Path with the dogs and the majority of his drones. Then something crippled the transmission in his head and once again those words began repeating in their dreamy way and the voices would once again begin to swell up. Panic fell over him. How could this have happened? Is it too late? His heart bounced a couple beats and then he toppled from the chair and onto the floor in a seizure. He twisted about and offered out strangled coughing noises for nearly twenty seconds before completely relaxing. This was not the first attack of this nature. They had been occurring more often of late and the duration was extending.
All the voices were gone and an understanding came over him. They had managed to get the music on over the city wide p.a. He could even hear the music playing quietly in an accusing way. He closed his mind in the ways his selfish thought sponge had educated itself to recharge. He rose from the floor, dusted off his suit and strode towards the door. Everyone else was fighting but him. That didn’t sound very fun. He lifted a small communication device to his mouth that Bohspox would recognize well and spoke into it sharply.
“I need a vehicle to the west dock now. I don’t care what it is as long as it moves fast.” He pocketed the device and swung open the door. The music was much louder now. Okmar hated the sound of it. Murphy sounded like a whiner. He sounded full of fake feelings. Why the cats thought so much of him was beyond Okmar’s grasp. He turned right and marched half way down the circular hallway to the portal door. It opened as he reached it with a swift sigh and Okmar stepped inside.
“West Dock,” he commanded to which the robotic host of the portal repeated and executed. The doors flew open, seconds later with another severe sigh and he stepped into the hot desert like air. His ears perked at the loud whine of a Riley bike. Not just one, but ten of them, operated by ten of his drones. One of them carried an extra Riley bike in what surely must have been an agonizing way. He set it down and Okmar quickly strode towards it. He and ten men. That should be more than enough to end this.
Of course Okmar tried on the first pressed suit. It was still warm from the heat stitching and the heat relaxed him and painted a shiny sheen of perspiration on his forehead. He regarded himself in the tall mirror next to the hard backed chair he had been sitting in earlier and seemed more than pleased with the attire. He smoothed out edges and shook out the sleeves so every crease ended up as it should. He pulled the warm crotch from the folds in his parts until everything was as it should be down there as well. The material was surprisingly soft and moved over his skin silently as he turned back and forth. He praised the boy and then directed the drones to line up single file and prepare to don the first and last article of clothing they will ever wear. They did so.
After just ninety minutes, all eighty seven of Okmars cloned Bicilites stood out in the street in their newly tailored suits. Okmar gazed upon them approvingly before letting his eye fall to the boy, who sat, slumped shouldered in the doorway to the shop. Okmar strode over to him, his shadow leaking across the ground like mud until it covered what little light the boy attracted from the stars.
“You have done well boy. You have earned your reward. Your reward is life boy. Do you understand? The only thing worth living for is an outside chance you’ll be able to exact revenge on those who have wronged you. You are now full of life.” Okmar crouched down and turned the boys chin until he looked into his eye. “If you ever make it off this rock before it dies son, I’ll be waiting.” He could feel Aarouglas’s body quivering with hatred. His eyes fought to remain glued to Okmars good one.
“I will get off this rock,” Aarouglas said, with much more confidence than Okmar would ever have expected. He looked taken aback, “And I will get my revenge.”
Okmar smiled big at this. He patted the boy once more on the head and rose from his crouch. “Follow me men!” He beckoned and began to lead the Men in Suits back in the direction of Solith’s underground bunker. Aarouglas did not budge until they were all out of view and then he burst into tears. ----------------------------------
Okmar and his drones spent the next seven hours preparing for launch. There was a universe to take. There were more miracles to awaken. Solith’s underground bunker began to shake and rattle as the turbines and jets began to cough and stutter to life. Okmar sat back in his captain’s chair and watched in the front screen as dirt and rock began to peel away from the hull of what would later be described as a giant cosmic garbage truck. He smiled, closed his good eye and listened to the voices. --------------------------------
Aarouglas looked up from his tear puddle palms and marveled at the slow rise of the escape station Solith had spent the majority of his life constructing in preparation for the death of the planet. It was designed to carry the entire race to safety. That wouldn't be happening anymore. Solith’s son had sent them all to safety in his own way. Aarouglas’s features darkened and his lip curled as the station picked up speed and then winked out of existence leaving him alone with the dust and the wind and the death and the hate.
“Now now boy. We can’t always think of everything.” He strode confidently over to the box on the other side of the monitor while removing the ripped and stained white overalls he’d been wearing. The box resembled a stand up shower but smaller and tighter, more like a coffin standing on end. The inside was lined with stitched, shiny, white leather. The entire outer edge was wrapped in neon lights that pulsed, a deep blue. Now, as naked as his drones, Okmar stepped into the box and turned to face Arouglas. The boy continued to avert his eyes. Okmar could feel the hate baking off of him.
“Just lean back and relax. This should only take a minute,” Arouglas said flatly and, without watching, waited for Okmar to follow his instruction. Okmar stepped backwards and leaned his hot skin onto the cold leather. He sucked in a quick breath from the temperature and then began to relax as his body began to mold into the cushions. He could feel tiny protrusions working away beneath the surface of the leather cushions all the way from his neck line to his ankles. He closed his good eye and his protrusion rose out of the case and regarded the boy intensely, waiting for anything out of the ordinary. The boy side glanced this and wondered just how far that thing could come out of his head. Was there any room left for a brain in there? He wondered.
“Oh I have me plenty of brains tot. So many you wouldn’t even begin to understand in your entire lifetime,” Okmar said in a playful tone. He did not open his eye. The voices were swelling back. Someone was discussing something Okmar found interesting. He tried to hone in on the voices like adjusting reception on a radio, went too far and then came back. The conversation swelled and held while Okmar eavesdropped. They were discussing a chemical reaction between a material they had only recently discovered and shale rock mined from an outer planet. The planet had not been documented so they were left with immediate questions. Apparently the liquid produced different attributes when exposed to temperature. The voices seemed very excited and planned to produce their findings to their superior on Twentzday.
'Not if I get there first,' Okmar thought and opened his eye. “How much longer boy? I have important things to attend too.”
“Almost done sir,” the boy replied promptly. “Will all the suits require measurements? This could take some time if I have to measure every…”
“Just one measurement will do fine boy. I need eighty seven of your best suits. Actually… make that one hundred and seventy four. Two each. Do you have the material for that?”
The boy tapped a few keys on the keyboard and then nodded.
The blue neon lights flickered a couple times and then dimmed. The humming stopped and the tiny movements beneath the cushion ceased.
“You’re done sir. You may step away from the box.”
Okmar did so with some pep in his step. He clapped his hands together as his extension sucked into his eye socket like a piece of spaghetti. “How long boy?”
There was another series of taps as the boy hit some keys and pushed a few buttons. “First one will be done in seven minutes. They all should be done within ninety minutes, give or take.”
“Excellent,” Okmar patted the boys head approvingly as he strode by. He did not put the white coveralls back on. He stood behind the boy with his hand on the back of the chair and waited patiently.
It was easy to tell that the boy wholly appreciated the opportunity to immerse himself in a mindless task. Jimini had taught him to use the machines just over a year ago when her arthritis began to act up and rest became a necessity. She hadn’t fallen ill or anything, just the passage of time added weight to gravity and stiffness to joints and muscles. The boy, Aarouglas was his name, found a hidden talent in design shortly after his education, which lasted only a month. Jimini would have left him alone after a week, she was that confident in his usage and his creative approach, but found she enjoyed the time with her son, so much, she hung on for as long as his irritation would allow. The only thing boys seemed to love more than their mothers were the opportunities to prove their worth to them.
Okmar sat in the only chair outside of the work area. He watched the boy work with a corner smirk. His orbital extension lay in his lap and he petted it lovingly. It seemed to enjoy this, expressing itself in wanting movements and squelching, popping sounds. The rest of the Bicilites were crowded in the front lobby of the shop and just stood around limply, unknowing and uncaring of anything. A sweaty, musty stink hovered above their dirty skin and slowly ate up the smells of fresh materials and sterility. The faint whiff of barbeque left a sickly sweet under odor attached to everything.
Aarouglas pressed a series of buttons and flicked a few toggle switches, taking periodic glances at the large screen mounted above. The soft glow peppered his dirt grimed, tear stained face adding dark deep pits in his features that would not have been there otherwise. He looked much older than a half hour ago. There was a slight shake in his hands. Okmar wondered if he may be thirsty or hungry, thought about asking and then didn’t. Instead he focused on some faint voices that began to grow inside his mind. He recognized none of these voices and was not given any indication where they were coming from but there was a very soothing quality to them as though he were listening to a story from a parent or overhearing a conversation that stoked happy memories.
After a period of time that felt to Okmar, much shorter than it had been, the boy spoke and shook Okmar from his trance. “I must measure you now. If you would just step into the case on the other side there and wait for my instruction it would be greatly appreciated,” his voice was a monotone series of words he’d probably repeated many times in his life. He did not look at Okmar once throughout this little direction. Okmar, rose from the hard backed chair. One of the legs rubbed along the hard floor and produced a noise much louder than it would have under other circumstances. Arouglas shivered with its uncomfortable interruption. Okmar took seven steps over to the boy and regarded him coldly for a moment.
“Yonder box isn’t prepped to cook your friend Okmar to a crisp now is it boy?” There was no vocal reply but Okmar plucked two consecutive thoughts from the boys mind that appeared almost simultaneously. ‘I wish’ and ‘I could have.’ The latter thought relayed in a defeated manner; soaked in regret.
“Hello young one?” A question that was not a question. Completely unintentional. His brow creased for a moment. He shook his head and did his best to soften his features. The boy continued to rock back and forth, hugging his shins repeating apologies in a harsh whispery desperation.
‘What’s your name boy? Are you not the son of Draxle and Jimini? Rise up from this pathetic state and receive your prize!” Okmar’s voice gradually rose throughout his little speech; he raised his arms in the air to accentuate the excitement the boy should feel about winning a prize for surviving the decimation of his entire race. If one thought hard enough one would find the humor in handing an award to someone for enduring the violent murder of his entire family. It seemed at this particular moment Okmar was unaware of this humor. His intention remained a two dimensional thing inside his head. He needed the boy. The boy worked with his mother in the clothing shop on seventeen and HB. Solith had constructed a series of machines that printed clothing like a Xerox machine for them some, twenty year ago. He had done it out of the kindness of his heart. Okmar wondered periodically if his father had been smitten with Jimini. It would make sense he supposed. Maybe that was where Draxle’s hateful spite came from. It didn't matter anymore anyhow.
He needed to get some clothes on all these naked drones. Okmar bent down until his nose was just inches from the boy’s forehead. His orbital extension popped and snapped its way from within the socket, wrapped around one of the boy’s wrists and forced him to stop rocking. Okmar’s head continued to jerk back and forth as the boy could not seem to halt this movement. He was obviously in shock, possibly but hopefully not completely lost. Okmar needed to know how to run the machine. He could probably figure it out but who knew how long that would take and he was unsettled with a queer impatience. The voices had all but rolled off into the background of Okmar’s mind now. He wondered if they had all been the dying, ghost thoughts of all the passing Bicilite’s during the raid.
“Stop it!” Okmar roared suddenly. The boy jerked and looked at Okmar with a look so filled with terror he thought the boy was just going to die right there. Instead he opened his mouth and screamed a very long and loud, high pitched scream that tailed off in a strangled way. He sucked in a breath but before he could begin screaming again, Okmar slapped him across the face. The boy was dazed a moment and nearly lost consciousness. His eyes rolled around. Okmar’s orbital extension squeezed the boys arm hard. The boy’s eyes flew open and his lips pulled back sharply revealing his tiny teeth in a shocked pained grin. The squeeze lightened slightly and Okmar moved his face even closer to the boys face and the extension slithered and suckled its way back into the socket. Their noses were almost touching.
“Can you tailor some suits for us boy? Has your Mom been a good teacher to you and your kin? Can you operate and manipulate the machines?” The boy stared. Just as Okmar began to believe the boy was in fact lost, fore not even a thought could be plucked from his head, he wound up to hit him again. The boy nodded fast and hard and continuously. Okmar relaxed his hand which had made it high enough to perform the back hand slap he intended. A smile softened his gnarled features and he crouched down in front of the boy and took him firmly by the shoulders.
“That’s a good thing boy. A very good thing. Let’s take us a walk, shall we?
The dancing, (awkward and random), lasted not much longer than a half hour. Okmar stared at two piles of dimming ash that once had been bone and flesh. A wave of voices flooded his head. So many he could not make out a single word; just a steady rumble of noise. His men had stopped dancing as well; nearly in perfect unison. They were all perfectly nude and perfectly silent. They just stood around passively, arms hung loosely at their sides, vacantly aware, as the fires abated and smoldered in the hot, still late evening. Okmar’s eye opened slow enough to squeak like a horror movie hinge. He continued to stare into the two piles of ash, seeing it but not seeing it, while reaching and grabbing at the voices smashing through his skull like a giant wave. When his eye had reached its maximum extension and all awareness of his actual surroundings had physically gone astray, in a final desperate attempt he concentrated hard enough to break several blood vessels in his good eye. A small voice became brighter than the rest. It swelled in volume gradually. The voice repeated the same phrase over and over in a panic riddled fashion. He could hear the faint creak of wood behind the young Bicilite’s desperate whispers. ‘I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m…’ the voice continued with no sign of slowing or stopping. The odd off time pause for extra breath were the only interruptions.
Okmar slowly turned his wide eye in the direction his realizations carried him. At the base of a horrific array of burning and broken body parts, dreamily falling into cold darkness, upon the stage where this had all begun, next to the podium, on the floor sat Draxle’s son. He sucked his thumb like a stupid pup and rocked back and forth staring into nothing. Okmar turned and began to walk towards the stage and the podium and the boy. The other’s lazily followed him, falling into single file much like a colony of ants. Okmar found this both pleasing and irritating. When he reached the boy he was in such an agitated state that his original intention of sounding well doing and sympathetic and fatherly came off sounding monstrous and villainous and manipulative.
Consciousness left Draxle for a few seconds and when it regained he was facing the crowd with his cheek on the wooden floor. Sharp pains spiked through his head and face. The last thing he saw before the end took him away was the Torrent sisters lying on the ground about twenty feet from the foot of the stage. They rolled back and forth on the hard pan, screaming and sobbing as blood poured from debilitating cuts. Piamaa Torrent’s left leg looked as though it had been twisted backwards and pulled up towards her head. She clawed at the bicilite with gnashed teeth and tight lips. Martian Torrent was missing her right leg from just below the knee, down. The missing part of her appendage was nowhere to be seen. Fatal amounts of blood continued to jet from the jagged, ripped flesh and bone. From the look of her slack facial features Draxle believed she had the look of someone on the edge of avoiding something much worse. Much worse began with the oldest and most desired member of the Torrent family. Sidam Torrent howled as she lay on her belly. Her hips were twisted in the other direction and the tendon at the back of her left foot had a split in it so deep her heal could bend all the way to ball of her foot with very little pressure. One of the naked Bicilite’s began to spray liquid from a hose attached to a tank on his back. His face had the look of severe concentration and little sympathy. Two other nude Bicilites stepped from the thick clouds of growing smoke, bearing torches. Sidam was set afire. She blazed hot and bright. Draxle stared at this horror with disbelief. Sidam screamed through the hot yellow flames that quickly began to melt her lips. It only took seconds for the flesh to leave her face. Even though there were no lungs left to emit the screams, Draxle could still hear them. The other two sisters were also lit on fire and left to the same end. As Draxle suspected, Martian had avoiding the terrible fate of burning to death as she had passed on due to blood loss from her leg wound. The smell of burning flesh invaded Draxle’s nostrils and stung his eyes. He blinked away the wetness. Tears streaked down his dirty face. His ears filled with a new sound and it grated his nerves in its joy. Okmar continued to laugh like some demented child. It increased in hilarity, reaching a level of audible insanity that carried Draxle into his eternal sleep. Okmar lifted his foot and crushed Draxle’s skull with one firm stomp. Okmar’s laughter halted abruptly as he examined his accomplishment with a curiously cocked head. He was trying to decide just how satisfied he was with this climax of sorts. Solith entered his head with a single phrase that haunted him to present day. “I’m so sorry for you my son.” Okmar turned his gaze away from Draxle’s mangled head and spat in the direction of the boy who continued to cradle his mother’s severed head. Darkness crept into Okmar’s eyes and slowly spread through him like unnatural energy. Lightning bolts of excitement pumped through his fingers. He looked up and regarded the field of burning Bicilite’s. There were enough screams remaining for him to be satisfied with the success of his directive. Many in fact smelled each other burn. Enough to appease his wants. He surveyed the area with a turned up corner of his mouth. Something bloomed like a flower in his belly and warmed the rest of his body. The entire area was bright with flame and blanketed in thick, swirling smoke. The screams began to slowly taper off. “Dance!” Okmar hollered at no one in particular and then executed his own directive, twirling and leaping his way to the steps leading from the stage to celebrate with the rest of his men. The rest of the Universe carried on, oblivious.
Okmar’s corneal extension tossed Jimini’s head aside indifferently and shook the blood from its slick surface. The head bounced off the bottom corner of the podium, and rolled into the foot of Draxle’s shocked son, who maintained his position, white wristed, on his rear end where Okmar had tossed him moments before. Jake stared into his mother’s crooked gaze and grew slack jawed. A cloud seemed to pass behind his corneas. He was lost in a memory of his mother teaching him the Strugbone. She taught him to use his lungs and how to control his breathing for the long drawl portions of the pieces he learned studied and perfected. There were many other memories to be lost in; many of them deserving of remembrance to a higher degree, possibly, yet this was the memory he was lost in while he stared into the dead eyes of his mothers decapitated head. Within Jake’s peripheral yet outside his regard, Okmar’s optical annex directed its attention to Draxle, whose eyes began to flutter, much as his wife’s had. His cheeks had gone an alarming shade of purple. Okmars eye snake slapped Draxle across the face and the grip of his hand loosened Draxle’s windpipe enough for him to choke and spit desperate pulls of oxygen. He regarded his son, holding his wife’s head from his knees to which he fell as though his bones had all turned to jelly. Shaky arms were the only defense from the gravity asking for his face to meet the floor. The sounds of screams filled his ears like some demonic orchestra reaching its crescendo. There never came any intention of looking out into the crowd where these torturous screams emitted. The torchlight bounced off his shining, dazed eyes and sweaty forehead. Okmar kicked him in the face hard enough to knock out four teeth and bloody his lower lip.
What happened next happened so fast that the majority of onlookers required over half a minute to process and react to it and by that time it was too late for everyone. Okmar’s orbital extension spiked forward and wrapped around Jimini’s, (Draxle’s most loved creature next to his son, who continued to regard Okmar’s deformity with open mouthed, wide eyed horror), throat and tightened fast enough to stop her scream. Okmars left hand swung out and knocked the boy out of the way. The boy stumbled backward a couple steps, pinwheeling his arms like a crazed Ostrich and then fell to his bottom producing a loud thump through the speakers. Some in the crowd actually laughed. Okmar’s other hand found its way around the throat of the Bicilite mostly responsible for the out of control hatred Okmar felt for his entire race. Draxle made a choking sound and reached up, desperately trying to fit his fingers inside Okmar’s grip. His eyes bulged and colour spread on his cheeks like pebbles in a pond. Impossibly, Okmar’s winning smile grew at the look of absolute terror in Draxle’s eyes. Okmar turned Draxle’s head to look into his wife’s equal terror. Her face began to turn a light shade of purple. Her eyes flickered as she battled with consciousness. Okmar’s extension tightened even more. There was a ripping sound that the microphone picked up as well. Okmar greedily took in Draxle’s expression as his wife’s body crumpled to the floor like a Raggedy Ann doll. A few gasps escaped the lips of the Bicilite’s in the front row. A mess of blood pooled beneath Okmar’s protrusion’s prize as it held it out to Draxle like a bouquet of flowers. Her eye’s fluttered once more and then became still and lifeless, one eye lid half closed, the other wide and unfocused; both looking in different directions. Her face was then pressed into Draxle’s. This horrible act was accompanied by smooching sounds and an overjoyed Okmar, in a child’s voice, “kissy kissy kissy.” Someone in the front row screamed as Jimini’s blood began to pour over the lip of the stage. Fear travelled fast. While still maintaining a paralyzing grip on Draxle’s throat, Okmar turned to the microphone and while regarding the crowd with an excited, insane eye and while his protrusion rose into the air maintaining the display of Jimini's severed head, he uttered, “Wound them all. I want them to smell each other burn.”