All's Fair, Part Eighteen: Dark Victory

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(April 13th)

“Well, that went well.” Holstering his gun, Clockwork pushed a fragment of charred wood out of his path.

“You have a truly interesting definition of ‘well’, and I would like you to share it with me.” Varrn Kyall looked around the ruined control chamber with disgust. The floor was littered with the bodies of soldiers from both sides of the conflict, and Varrn medics were currently separating them by degress of injury. Remnants of several of the alien tree-ninja that had begun to ambush Kyall’s forces were also present. “About the only good thing I can see is that we didn’t lose the monoliths.”

Clockwork snorted. Reaching over, he tapped one of the five psicrystals, wiping a line of soot off it. “It would take more damage than we were throwing around to break one of these things. The Atlanteans built them to last.” He smiled broadly. “And you have managed to both defeat Carath Jhim, and to capture the Adari capitol. I would think that would be cause for celebration.”

“Oh, yes. Absolutely.” Kyall said sarcastically. “Except, of course, for the minor fact that half of my soldiers have been driven out of commission, and this is one city out of the whole bloody planet. Oh, and the small detail that there is now an army of evil trees in the surrounding area. Mm, and did I mention the part where every leader of the Adari Great Families are now safely on Earth with their godsdamned human allies??” He glared as his companion. “You don’t find that the least bit worrying?”


“Mm.” Kyall threw up his hands in frustration. “Just my luck, I’ve partnered with a madman.”

“Would you calm down?” Walking over, Clockwork reached down and put a comforting hand on Kyall’s shoulder. “First, narrative law now favors you, at least in part. Your defeat of Jhim on his home ground has shifted the balance in your favour.”

“And yet I was able to defeat him when the balance was in his favour.” Kyall pointed out. “This ‘Alpha Team’ thing doesn’t seem very potent.”

“It’s subtle, but it will grow with time.” Clockwork waved the complaint away. “Secondly, that tree is an annoyance, no more. I have seen it in action, and it can only control so many drones at a time. We will deal with it. Third, it doesn’t matter if the Adari are gone, because they are not coming back.” He grinned. “As long as you control the Sayleen psibeacon, no one comes here if you do not will it. Once you’ve pacified the region, you can send a small delegation through to deal with the United Nations. What are they going to do? Send in a five-person invasion? That’ll go well.” He shook his head. “Meanwhile, we have a secondary beacon, so we can come and go as we please, while we finish conquering the Alpha Team and gaining their power. After that, it’s only a matter of letting the nexus finish stabilizing.”

“You make it sound simple.” Kyall muttered. “I still don’t like all these loose ends – and I think that you’re underestimating that abomination of all things vegetative.”

“Trust me, I’m not. In order for Ash to be a threat, he would have to have been able to completely fool the SEA as to his true capabilities – besides which, Doctor Ecchs is a jumped-up halfwit, and he didn’t even work on the thing alone. The chance of Ash being a threat is well under 1%.” Clockwork shrugged. “If I were you, I would focus my concerns on the possibility of forming a proper alliance before the other nations of this world decide you’re dangerous. If we don’t start working on that immediately, we could have a problem.”

“Very well.” Kyall shrugged. “But when you have to revise your plans because a flight of leaves have taken out our mercenaries and all of our functionaries have been kidnapped, I am reminding you of this conversation.”

“You won’t have to.” Clockwork assured him.

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