The Rise Of Darkness, Part Nine: Solutions

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(June 4th)


"Hey, boss. Just wanted to let you know that Bloodline did his thing, and Scourge is dead. No more evil mes running around with the Oligarchs now." Lucy's cheerful voice came over the comm, as Spencer Ecchs sat thoughtfully in his room. "Chat with you later."

"Damn it." Ecchs muttered to himself, taking a sip of brandy.

"Difficulties, my liege?" Psiborg faded into being, rising to his feet as he looked at his king.

"You think?" Ecchs muttered. Reaching over to the pocket computer sitting next to him, he started punching numbers in. "This is ridiculous. At this rate, I'm going to be eighty by the time I recruit enough Lucky Lads to engage the device." He shook his head. "This plan seemed so perfect on paper. I don't get it."

"At the risk of offending you, my lord, the flaw is self-evident. You are looking for a very specific blend of ruthlessness and loyalty. Engaging two dozen people with that blend, given the fact that they need to be notably different from one another in order to remain in existence when you transform reality, is not as simple as it sounds." Psiborg said simply. When Ecchs looked up long enough to glare at him, he added unapologetically. "The plan itself is conceptually sound, Master Mundi. Your machine, once completed, will be able to alter narrative law provided that it is drawing on the powers of one or more Lucky Lads. But you have been fortunate to acquire even two alternates that you can trust. It may be time to revert to the other option – kidnapping and imprisoning alternates to power the device."

"No. Nuh-uh." Ecchs shook his head, tapping at buttons. "If there's one thing that we do not, in any way, shape, or form, want, it's that. If we get a raft of alternates locked to a box, that's just demanding that their powers start working in conjunction against me, instead of for me." He sighed, sitting back. "If taking over the world was easy, anyone could do it. All the pieces are in place. My machine will be done by January, I've manuevered the teleporters into the bases of any organization that could oppose me, the war on Sayleen is in full swing, and the other species are too self-occupied to be able to effectively interfere before I've gotten things stabilizied. If I could just recruit another five or ten Luckys, I'd be set." He frowned down at the computer. "No good with Anarch or Paradox yet, I suppose."

"They remain uninterested, although they have yet to cross the line that Scourge did into actively causing trouble for our plans." Psiborg confirmed. "I will inform you…"

"If there is any change, yes, I know." Ecchs muttered. "I should be getting ready for my wedding right now, you know. I have things to do."

"The alternates are not going anywhere." Psiborg pointed out. "If you truly wish, you can simply wait a few months, then begin recruitment once again."

"I could, yes. But time isn't exactly on my side. This is a delicate operation, and I happen to know that Mayhem and Shivarex are starting to wonder when we're going anywhere with it." Ecchs replied. He sighed, and ran some calculations. "Alright. A few more tests to see if Scourge made any changes, and then I'll give up and… hello." His brow furrowed.

"Sir?" Psiborg asked in confusion.

"My god." Ecchs' boredom was rapidly vanishing. "Psiborg, take a look at these numbers."
"I am not a scientist." Psiborg said. "I can see the numbers, but I don't see the meaning…"

"This is the narrative thread that Lucky Lad's powers created. The one I've been trying to strengthen by recruiting all those Ladds. I've been checking it, but… no. Scourge must still be alive."

"He is not." Psiborg said cautiously. "The SEA was quite thorough with its examination. There is no chance, regardless of his powers, of Scourge having survived his encounter in Milwaukee." He paused for a moment. "If I could ask why you believe…"

"This changes everything." Ecchs cut his servant off. "I need to check, to be sure… who's the most problematic Lucky out there right now, of the ones that the SEA hasn't found?"

"Most likely the King of Hearts. He has remained off the radar for the moment, but I doubt that it will last."

"Good. Kill him. Let me know when you're done." Ecchs said absently, still focusing on the readout.

"Ah… yes, my liege." Psiborg started to fade, then hesitated. "Why?"

"Because the thread isn't weaker." Ecchs looked up finally, his face lighting up. "When Scourge died, the power he had added to Lucky Ladd didn't vanish. I've been going about this all wrong. I don't need a legion of Lucky Ladds. I only need one living one, and a legion of corpses."

"That simplifies things considerably." Psiborg said thoughtfully.

"It really, really does. To hell with all of this sneaking around, trying to manhandle those maniacs into line. If, when you kill the King of Hearts, the thread stays firm, we can set things in motion. Kill them all quickly, when we're ready to move." Ecchs grinned. "I've done it. In a few months… I'm going to rule the world."

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