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The Daughter of Alias Saga #4: Motherland
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ALIAS Offline

XWF FanBase:

(gets varying reactions in the arenas, but will be worshiped like a god and defended until the end by internet fans; literally has thousands of online dorks logging on to complain anytime they lose a match or don't get pushed right)

Post: #1
11-24-2021 07:12 AM


4A: Musings on Ships and Containers

In a rusty container at the top of a stack in the middle of a ship somewhere out to sea, the subject of my curiosity was hiding. Let me try to fill in the blanks once more. A container is a tangible construct, typically made of six different sides, that the inhabitants of this world use to put their things in. It can be all sorts of things: big things; little things; important things; and even things that they’ll completely forget to look for, which isn’t really saying much given the propensity for these beings to misplace even their own offspring. All of this, as you would know, is a result of the fact that they have yet to even theoretically devise a plausible way of accessing microdimensions to store things the way that we might.

To add, a ship is sort of like a container that they can put on top of oxidane without it sinking. Sometimes they may attach a rudimentary propulsion mechanism to the floating container and manage some degree of control over its direction. Other times, they simply tie a bit of fabric to a pole and just hope for the best.

I know what you’re thinking. I too have scarcely stopped being flabbergasted by the depths of their archaic ways since I began observing them. Still, they are not completely without hope. The young calf whom’s progenitors were terminated carries the hope of their entire civilisation on her shoulders, and the two older gentlemen that accompany her both recognise the true nature of their existence to some degree.

What’s that?

Oh yes, there are two of them now.

4B: Hush

Back and forth we sway. Near-total darkness blankets us. It tucks itself under our feet and keeps us nice and snug. A perfect black, only disturbed by two irregular shapes of light about eight or nine feet high, to the side of where we sit. Guided by the vessel’s rocking motion, the rays beaming in through the holes track wonky paths along the plywood flooring and up the red-brown steel at the back of the shipping container. Each time it swoops, it brushes over both of our legs, briefly passing in front of our faces and bringing them out of the darkness.

Into the light.

“Very good idea, Comrade Alias!” says the North Korean War Criminal, or ‘NK’ as Corey Smith had (?)affectionately(?) named him en route to meeting up with Centurion and I at Camp Wannapoeia Etabooga, back in July. NK’s affirmation is accompanied by an impressed nod as he glances around at our environment.

I readjust my back against the steel.

“Wherever did you get the idea?” NK continues.

“Uh… I think I got it from you actually,” I reply, trying to think back. “Didn’t you come back to the XWF by attacking me out of a freezer box or something?”

“Negative, Comrade,” NK says, confident and self-assured. “I believe you put me inside one after kicking out of the pin attempt that I, of course, was only doing to ensure that you were ready for our inevitable War Games triumph!”

There was over two months between those two events. That little factoid didn’t seem to bother the War Criminal.

“Had it been anything more than a practice run, I of course would have been successful.” He looks at me and blinks. Not a regular, reflexive blink. It’s like he was doing so deliberately, as if he had to remember to do so.

“Of course,” I acknowledge, having no interest in disputing his reality. I’ll save that for the blue woman. Another thought nudges its way into the back of my mind. “Does that mean this is the second time that I’ve stuffed you inside of a box?”

“Affirmative!” he nods again. And blinks again. It’s unnerving.

“Um… sorry?” I offer, pulling an apologetic face.

“There is nothing to apologise for, Comrade Alias!” he states, his voice bouncing with an unnatural cadence. “The plan was executed to perfection!”

“Cool beans, then.” I shrug the memory of our first encounter from my mind.

“Beans should never be cold.” He stares at me again. This time, he doesn’t blink. At all. The way he addresses me makes it sound as though this statement is the most important thing he has ever said in his life. “Beans should only ever be baked at a perfect 175 degrees. Celsius.”

“Of course,” I acknowledge again, making rough calculations in my head and determining that it’s approximately 350 degrees fahrenheit. My response is enough to satisfy him, and he cheerily leans his gargantuan eight foot, fifteen and three-quarters inch (five foot eight) frame against the wall opposite me.

A moment of silence permeates throughout the room and the stray beams of light continue their routine treks as the ship rolls over wave after wave. There and back again.

Ever the scholar, the North Korean War Criminal reaches into hammerspace and withdraws an enormous stack of stained papers, bound together with old brown rope. He does his best to shield it from me, covering it with his arm like he’s a teenager drawing boobies on his book in class. Even with his arm in the way, however, I catch a view of the front page as he turns it over. Korean text is scrawled boldly across the parchment in green crayon, with a smaller line hastily scribbled at the bottom.

미래에 대한 슈퍼 시크릿 리서치

읽지 마, 마크 플린!

While the bottom line just serves as a warning for Mark Flynn not to read this makeshift bible, it’s the top line that grabs my attention.

“Super Secret Research On The Future.”

Given the circumstances of the cliffhanger we met again on, my mind immediately starts to swell with conspiratorial ideas. I often preach about my path and my fight, and I know that people have tried to pull the strings on that front before. The Baphomet. Kieran King. The doctor - not Lou, the other one who apparently shared some level of responsibility for the kind of creature that I’ve turned into.

Before the fire took her.

Before me.

And then there’s John Caedus. He helped them make me what I am, and if what he said to Lycana is to be believed, he’s up to a whole lot more too. And it may be that neither The Baphomet nor that doctor are the last we’ve seen of The Left Hand.


Lycana and I. And Marf, I guess. Maybe Betsy too. What a quartet we make. And what fortuitous timing for Lycana to be making these sorts of discoveries just as her and I are about to come together once more. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. ‘Till death…

Ugh. I can’t even finish thinking that. It sounds wrong on so many levels. But her story certainly lends itself to everything I’ve been saying. She plays a role in the revelation of my story. And our upcoming collision?

It’s a necessity.

NK’s own behaviour lends itself to the mystery too. I watch him with a side glance as he buries his nose into his research. It was awfully convenient that we bumped into him the way we did, and he didn’t exactly have the greatest rationale for why he was in that doorway, just at the moment that the girl and I ducked into it. And then there is that little thing about him being a LITERAL NORTH KOREAN WAR CRIMINAL!!! That being said, I’m allegedly an escaped psychiatric patient who may or may not be wanted for kidnapping a mystical child after her parents were murdered by a serial killer preacher. And I also moonlight as a professional fucking wrestler fighter. Sometimes we have to put aside our prejudices, you know? Besides NK never has a great rationale for what he does, but he’s also never tried to hide what those rationales are. At least not from me. I can’t speak for Flynn.

Would he hide the future? Once he figures it out, that is? I don’t know. He’s here, isn’t he? He didn’t have to be, but he didn’t just agree to come on this journey with me - he volunteered!

Actually… I don’t know if that makes it any better.

A cough interrupts the thought, echoing from steel to steel. Both NK and I snap our heads towards the corner of the container. As quiet as I can, I scurry over to where the girl raises her weary head. My hand hovers just over her mouth, ready to try and muffle any further noise that might draw attention to our position here. She looks up at me, and melts me with her smile.

Then she looks towards NK.

Her face distorts.

The War Criminal doesn’t have the same effect on her as Lycana or Morbid Angel. She’s about to cry, and when she cries, she fucking wails.

We have to do something, or we’ll be found for sure!

I scramble.

Come on! Come on! Come up with something!

It’s the voice of the North Korean War Criminal that cuts through my panic.

“It appears that swine-based lifeforms are able to cross the barrier between realities relatively unimpacted…” Wait… what? That side glance returns as I look on, puzzled by what he’s saying. He continues, “...although lingering multidimensional residue appears to confer the ability to shapeshift. Several hypotheses have been generated as to how this may be able to be utilised to maintain the present status quo of the motherland’s domination over all other nations. If it is possible to source the blood of the interdimensional hog…”

“Interdimensional hog…?” I mutter to myself. “Status quo…?”

NK raises a finger and tuts at me. Then it hits me.

The girl is quiet.

Not just quiet, but she’s enraptured!

She sits, cross-legged, intently fixed on the War Criminal as he reads from his stack of papers. I snort a little. I wasn’t expecting this, and I think I’m just as impressed by NK now as he was by my selection of our mode of transport. My heart rate dips as the fear of the girl crying bursting into tears subsides, and I find myself folding my legs underneath me and taking up a spot next to the girl as she listens in. NK turns the page, and with the lessened secrecy around his book’s contents compared to when he first withdrew it from The Void, I see equations and diagrams as he turns the page once more. Actually, I’m pretty sure I see some boobies too.

Thankfully, the girl remains captivated by NK’s speech. Umm… I hope he’s not going to describe the boobs.

“…And if my calculations are correct in my adaptation of the world-famous Kim Equation, named of course after the Eternal President who provided definitive unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics, then one could multiply the blood of the interdimensional hog by one part werewolf dandy, divide it by the sweat glands of a time traveller, and have a literal gorilla finger paint an actual cube around it. In doing so, I hypothesise that Mark Flynn would be able to uncover the truth of the XWF and change the future! Of course, the Kim Equation is infinitely complex, and though my genius is the equivalent of seven Americans - nine if they’re from The South - I dare not consider myself on par with our Dear Leader. Even so, it may be worth a try.”

It really is a work of art.

Lost in the ponderings of someone who sits at the extreme end of either rationality or insanity or possibly even both at the same time, the gentle pitch of the ship has sent the girl back to sleep. Her little head wriggled its way into my lap without me even noticing. Again, she makes me smile.

NK notices it and closes his book. We share an unspoken look, within which he tells me to never speak of what he said again - especially not to Mark Flynn.

Fuck me, how did he get that whole message across without even saying a word?

As he puts the book back from whence it came (wherever that is), I settle the girl back into the makeshift cot we had jimmied up for her. We had waited until she was asleep in order to slip aboard, and perhaps naively I had hoped that she would sleep all the way through the journey.

To South Korea.

It worked out though, didn’t it? It was the girl’s idea for us to go, inspired by whatever it is that happened to her after confronting Morbid Angel. And here she is, holding her shit together. Things tend to work out in my favour.

“Comrade Alias?” NK pipes up, keeping his voice quiet to not disturb the girl as she twists herself into what I can only assume is a more comfortable position. It sure doesn’t look like it is. I creep away from her, and take up my prior position against the wall across from the War Criminal.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“The average cargo ship travels at approximately twenty five knots, and it is precisely fourteen thousand, three hundred and seventy seven nautical miles from the Port of New York to the Port of Busan.” Apparently the metric system falls apart when it comes to ship travel.

“And?” I prompt him for more.

“At that speed, it would take thirty days in order to reach our destination,” he says. Once more I make a quick calculation in my head, and confirm he’s right. “We are both due to defend our championships in mortal kcombat in less than seven. No doubt we will both be triumphant in our endeavours, for we are undoubtedly the two most formidable combatants in the XWF and one day our eventual friendly rivalry shall culminate in the grandest grappling match in recorded history, however…”

I think there’s a compliment in there?

“It would seem,” he continues, ”that at this time our respective victories are incompatible with our present predicament.”

“Ah, yes!” I say. “This is the point where we conveniently bend space and time in order to tell our stories the way we want to.”

The book emerges in NK’s hand again, alongside a pen, and he begins taking notes.


I reach into hammerspace myself, right there, in the middle of the container. I pat around within, hunting for a tool.

I find it in the form of a clock, and bring it into the ‘real world’. Whatever that means.

The clock is analogue, and both the hour and minute hand are pointing to the twelve. I turn them, all the way around, until they reach the twelve again.

“So we shall be progressing in time by twenty-hour hours?” NK asks, still studiously writing away.

“Something like that,” I reply. “It’s mostly just a plot device so that if anybody ever writes a story about this, it doesn’t get too bloody long. Don’t worry about it.”

Everything shifts.

4C: Korea

“Yes, up here,” the North Korean War Criminal confirms to the taxi driver in Korean. In our short time in Korea so far, NK has now become well aware that I can speak the language. The Time Clock that I totally just made up in the boat there works in mysterious ways! That’s the funny thing about the way that I work though. I just make things up, and all of a sudden, poof! It becomes reality. More on Lycana later, though! For now, just pretend you’ve got a Babel fish in your ear so that you can try to listen in. “Turn right, then right, then right, then right, then right, then right…”

“Uh… you okay there, buddy?” I ask, worried that he’s finally broken.

“I am a beacon of health and wellness,” he asserts, switching to English. “I am merely trying to communicate in such a way that our suboptimal companion can understand.”

I roll my eyes. The War Criminal shouts, reverting to Korean once more.

“LEFT I said!”


Tyres squeal as the car harrangs to the left. Horns blare as I grip at the handle above the door and clutch the still dozing girl - a small miracle in its own right - closer to my body, lest the weight of both our bodies careen into NK who for some inexplicable reason has opted to sit in the very middle of the back seat. We manage to recover without incident, and the North Korean War Criminal murmurs under his breath to me in English once more.

“I cannot fathom why he was not following my directions,” he moans. “I had said ‘left’!”

“Taxi drivers,” I offer in meek agreement, before letting my gaze settle on the semi-rural countryside whipping by us.

We had just left the Port of Busan in the south of the country. Oh man, you should have been there to see how we got out of that container! WHAT A STORY! Alas, that’s just now how the hands of time work, I’m afraid. Maybe another time, eh? NK made a ton of notes about it!

Initially, I had intended to begin meandering towards Seoul further in the north, basing my decision entirely on it being the only city that I knew the name of. I feel like I should know more though. Didn’t they host the Winter Olympics here or something? Or was that another delusion of mine from the loony bin? No matter, my plan had well and truly been derailed by my associate. He said he ‘knew a guy’, and that somewhat terrified me. When I asked whether it was Mark Flynn, he denied it, but sheepishly trailed off before explaining anything further.

As it would turn out, he wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t Flynn. NK’s streak of truthfulness continues! That right there is what makes him a better opportunity for success here than paying another visit to John Caedus was. That thought had crossed my mind.

The taxi driver had begrudgingly followed this unconventional navigational system of NK barking the wrong directions (I don’t count that as a lie), and eventually the car pulls into a paved yard in front of a building that looks as if it is stuck in limbo between dereliction and repair. I thank the driver as I guide myself and the girl out of the vehicle, careful not to bang her head. NK slinks out behind me, and doesn’t offer the same gratitude. Shit… I hope he paid.

I don’t get the chance to ask. We’re met by leery eyes poking their way out of the entranceway of the building. The North Korean War Criminal leads the way, and I fall into step behind him. From behind the figure in the doorway, I think I see the Ramhongsaek Konghwagukgi poking out from behind a bookshelf.

“Is this a secret North Korean base?” I dare to ask. NK waves me off, and greets the man with what he would later assure me was the firmest handshake that anybody south of the border had ever delivered. He had spent years studying the handshakes of different cultures so that he could seamlessly blend in, and he assured me that a South Korean handshake was to handshakes like American Eyebrow Man was to the Man of Bats, which I took to be a reference to George Clooney as Batman, but that was admittedly a guess.

They say a few words to each other, quiet enough to render both a Babel fish and polylinguist inert. After their hushed deliberation, NK steps aside and the man he knows looks me up and down.

His eyes settle on the girl.

The weight of the darkness within them pushes through her tranquility.

She awakens.

NK doesn’t have time to access his book. And me? Well I’m as useless as blue hair on a werewolf.

She cries. Loud and terrible.

The man from the building’s eyes widen and he slams the door shut, leaving us out here in the courtyard.

“Sorry,” I say to the War Criminal. He may have found a way to keep it at bay in the shipping container, but there’s only one way to stop this once it starts.

I get her away.

I run.

There’s an irony in that, given the gentle, subtle barbs I’ve sent out about Lycana doing the same thing. But I’m not running from something I don’t understand. Would I have, once? Sure.

Now though, I’m running with it.

We run and we run.

A soft wind rises, growing stronger as I sprint. It whips under my armpits, thrusting me forward as I become the gale itself. An apt description. One I’ve already used once, back in The Before. That was a beginning. Is this too?

Time passes. Immeasurable, whether you had a made-up clock or not.

We eventually come to rest under a broad camphor tree that casts a dampening shade across the little grass knoll it sits atop of. There we rest, as I tend to the girl’s needs. After a bite to eat and a few mouthfuls of water, she settles down enough to start chasing the butterflies that flit around the trunk. It gives me a chance to ponder what’s next. I didn’t want to leave NK behind like that, but I had to make a decision in the moment.

The Universe provides.

It always does.

“She looks so much like my sister did at that age,” a middle-aged woman comments as she takes up a position several feet away from where I sit.

Just as she thinks the girl looks like someone she knows, I think that she looks like someone that I know.

Or knew, anyway. Briefly.

She looks like the girl’s mother.


“Now you’re getting it! Now you’re playing the game with me!

That’s what this is. You know that, right? You know that this is a fucking game, with the entire Universe at stake? My game. My Universe. And if South Korea has taught us anything over the past month or two, games can be deadly. And you have to fight to survive.

Oh me! Oh my! Do you see how easy this shit is for me? That’s like four or five different talking points woven together in just a few short sentences, while simultaneously adding in a nod to the rest of what’s going on in my life right now!

Cue the thunderous applause and all hail The Grand fucking Poobah of this shit!

Glad to hear you’re having fun, though. No matter what’s at stake, games are still supposed to be fun, and I am right there with you having a fucking blast tWiStInG yOuR wOrDs.

Psst… no fucking shit that’s what I’m doing, you undercooked spud. Way to state the obvious.

I said I didn’t ‘need to rely on it’, not that I wouldn’t do it. And you know that too. Who’s purposefully getting it wrong now? Who’s being deliberately obtuse?

When I said that line, it was a nod to how Bobby Bourbon thought that doing this shit was all I had up my sleeve. Until, of course, what is LITERALLY up my sleeve got shoved down his fucking gullet. I stand by the line too. As long as I’ve got something to fight for - which you know damn well I do - then I don’t need to lean on that sort of crutch. The thing is, I also don’t need to point out how Thaddeus Duke has been trying to hang his hat on it taking both Corey Smith and I to defeat him at War Games, yet the entire extent of Corey’s involvement in that last stretch after Lou went night-night was getting kicked in that beautiful face of his! I don’t need to point that out at all! But I just did, didn’t I? Just like you, Tav’, don’t need to let us in on your American Horror Story take on Rachel-and-Ross with Marf, but you do it anyway. We all do shit that we don’t need to do, presumably because we’re getting something out of it. Like, oh I don’t know, pointing out the hypocrisy; the ludicrosity; the abject goddamn lunacy of trying to criticise someone for that when they do the same fucking thing? For fuck’s sake, Lycana, we all fucking do! Yourself included - and that’s going to be a big ol’ fucking theme today.

Or hell, better yet, maybe we do these sorts of things simply to get a few chuckles out at someone else’s expense?

How’s that for some ’rocket science’?


We’re having fun here!

A little less so after needing to explain it though. Thanks for making the world a little duller, douche.

i’M gOnNa MaKe YoUr WoRlD eVeN dUlLeR aT bAd MeDiCiNe!

Ugh. In before you said it, but it made me wanna barf. So apparently there’s actually some wisdom in that whole not saying ‘I know what you’re going to say’ rule, and it has nothing to do with the super obvious response of simply not saying what I claimed you would. It just makes the speaker physically ill instead. Classic me though! I’m like a shark, taking a bite out of everything just to find out what it’s made of.

The annoying part about that little experiment there is that I won’t even get to hear your delightful insight for another couple of rounds. See, I think I’ve spotted a point of disruption that we’re having. All of your talking points seem to be related to what I said a back in the rearview, while I’ve pranced on down the road a little and already dropped the weredoggy another bone. It makes the dialogue feel stunted, ya know? Even worse, at least from a selfish perspective for me, is that I’m just left over here shouting from my mountaintop about how ‘I already fucking answered that!’ Case in point: I’ve been poking fun at that whole ‘word-twisting’ silliness the whole time because I recognise how fucking moronic the conversation even is. It was a throwback, on my end. But lo and behold, you went and sunk your canines into it anyway. I probably should’ve known better than to expect you to get the joke. Instead, you’re becoming it. Just wait for that punchline though! I’ve heard it’s a Fatality.

Aaaaaand now we’re back at death. Bully for us.

It’s almost like it’s a theme. A motif. A fucking story. Shocking, right? The guy who called himself a storyteller told a story. Jeez Louise, however will he twist out of it?

He won’t.

He’ll stand here and let you call him a liar if you want to. He’ll let you say that he never had any principles to begin with too - even though that kind of undercuts the message you were trying to deliver. Tell me, if I didn’t have principles, why would I care about being called a liar? Why would I care if you were to catch me in it?

Is it because I’m aiming to ‘be better’?

Liars lie. Don’t they?

Tell me, what do you believe? What do you want to? And is that affecting your judgement at all?

That’s it, Tavora. That’s the cover story. It’s not ‘consistently inconsistent’. That’s just another joke. One I’ve been tee-heeing about for over a decade, even if I’m the only one. But did I die, or did I not? Was I brought back to life by ancient fucking Gods, or was it all just for show? I know what I’ve said. But uh… I also said that we were definitely on the moon at Leap of Faith, so… yeah...

There it is though. That’s the fucking cover.

Or is it?

Do I believe any of what I’ve said? Do I really believe anything about what we’ve both encountered? I sure said I do! But then again, I actually said that you ‘stopped’ me LITERALLY right before questioning whether you ‘stopped’ me at all. You seemed to let that one slide. Maybe it’s because acknowledging that part shoots your response to that question right in the fucking head. Or maybe because context actually fucking matters. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that, even if you won’t offer the same on my fucking metaphor.

So, cool. I’m a liar. Or a storyteller. Or both. I ask again, do I even believe any of this? Do I even know what I believe? Maybe it’s all just a backpedal? A, as you said, lie?

Maybe that’s the fucking point.

The doubt, the mystery, the contradiction. I, the enigma, right?

Fuck me, making me spell this shit out? You really can be the worst, you know?

How’d I do though? Is that enough of a twist for you? A sidestep? Did I do the fucking limbo? In the end, maybe this is just one of those examples I spoke about last time, where it’s exactly how it appears and you really don’t need to dig beneath the surface. Just like you and your pursuit of the tag team championships. Yeah, I actually believe you about that, dipshit. I even acknowledged your consistency as it relates to being motivated by championships. I just like prodding the fucking proverbial bear and guess what that furry bitch went and did? She got defensive about it.

Which is fucking hilarious.

FUN, remember? Immature or not.

And look, if you want to be such a sour puss, I’m happy to bring it down a notch just for the moment. Maybe, at the end of the day, I just don’t know what the hell is going on in my own life, save for knowing what drives me, knowing that I need to keep fighting, and knowing that I fucking will. Is there a lie in that? You tell me. It kind of sounds in line with what I’ve been saying all along, but if you want to shoot your shot at it, feel free. Just know that those are the three things that have stayed consistent in The Before, and in The Now. They ‘survived’ the purge, so-to-speak, and that statement has just enough tenuous links to morbidity in it so as to help me segue into this next bit.

All this talk about ‘stopping’ and ‘killing’ and all of their equivalents? All it really strikes me as, is you trying to use my words. Again.

We’ve danced around this a bit already, so we may as well rip the fucking bandaid off. Just come out and let me know how we’re playing things here. Is this it? Are you taking everything off the table? It’s still not too late to be better! It’s still not too late to walk back this whole ‘twisting words’ nonsense that you’re clinging to. I know it would be a wee bit on the embarrassing side, but uh… it’s not really any different than how you literally shat all over that when you fucking started this chat with LITERALLY USING MY WORDS! Bring whatever receipt you want, Tav’, you also LITERALLY said that you were doing it because it was something that I used to push. If that ain’t ‘using my words’ first, or at the very least first-equal, then I ain’t the Master of the fucking Universe.

Wait for it!...

Wait for it!...

And would you look at that? That shiny golden cumberbund of mine is still here with me. Guess that answers that. Credit where credit is due though, that’s some acute bravado you’re showing there saying that I didn’t scratch the surface. Probably for the better, because there’s no fucking substance underneath it anyway.

Hey, did you get the joke this time? ‘Acute’? Because you were saying I was being ‘obtuse’? Ah, forget it! You’re really being four right angles right now. A fucking square!


Okay that one was bad. Still fun though?

I hope so. I mean, you’re out here saying that you don’t want my Universe - calling it the ‘Uni’ just sounds gross - just because other people want it, when you LITERALLY said that part of its appeal was that it was ‘coveted by the majority here’. Good job skipping over how I actually linked that into your little respect motive too. Things sound so much better in soundbites, don’t they? So much more… FUN!

Word association time! I say ‘fun’, and you say…

‘House!’ Yes! We’re back on that trope for this next soundbite!

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest piece of shit of them all?

Wait… me? Shit. I guess that tracks. I’m a heck of a fucking mountain to climb! You’re up there though, boo. In both the disparaging AND complimentary ways, which is quite a feat actually. And would you look at that! I can still be nice; I’m not a monster.

Or am I?


Oh, and in case you were wondering, Tav’, yes, that mountain line was lifted from what I said against Lou, which I’m sure you’re all across. I better watch out, eh? Those words are coming back to get me!


She’s using what I said against Bobby Bourbon too! And Chris Page! She’s tying me up with them! Oh nooooooo!”

VOICEOVER:How is our magnificent hero going to get out of this one?!

“Thanks for asking, Mr. Voiceover Guy who definitely isn’t the North Korean War Criminal making me feel even more uncomfortable than usual about being called a hero. The knots that she twisted up are pretty shitty, so I’m probably just going to go ahead and move to the right. Or the Left. Dealer’s choice. Speaking of the Left though, How is that hunt for Baph’s body going, Tav’? Let me know if you need a mangled hand. I did tell you to watch out for John Caedus, didn’t I?

Wait… did I?

Umm… sorry? You know how forgetful I can be.


Especially when you go a’diggin’ in the back catalogue. Way to show me how you totally didn’t want to be doing it like this! Unless… it couldn’t be… could it? Did I make you throw out your whole game plan so that we can go tit-for-tat on banalities? Or… or… OR…!!!

Are you a liar?


I’m leaning towards the former, and I think that’s the kinder option too. I mean, let’s face it, that stuff about ‘Respect’? Dropped! The changed dynamics? Dropped! And the ball? Oh boy, that’s sure as shit been dropped. Rest easy though, mon cher, it’s not like you’re the first (read: the ‘one’).

Le sigh.

Let me save you the trouble of denying all that. This isn’t one big Chris Page-like scheme to try and catch you out. That would be pathetic, not ‘obtuse’. Me? I’m just fucking with you, Tav’. And it’s getting real easy to do so. I know most people’s mothers told them not to play with their food, but I never really met my mama so you’ll have to forgive my bad manners before I stick a fucking fork in you.

Hey, speaking of Page, if you’re wanting to say that I’m acting like him, you might want to avoid trying to take a shot at how much time I spend talking about a particular subject. That’s a straight up bitch move ripped right from his playbook. Ay caramba! It gets especially awkward when you LITERALLY wove it through your entire first spiel. Gosh, we’re getting a lot of ‘literallys’ today, aren’t we? LITERALLY!

Well, LITERALLY (here we go again), the roller coaster reference sucks shit. Okay, maybe not literally that time, but it really doesn’t back up your version of my words (according to your words, of course) the way you think it does. Indeed, those cars careen onwards in a LITERALLY - still got it! - dizzying display. Towards wherever it is they’re going. You’re dead on the money there. But you left off just where it is that those coaster cars are trying to get to, didn’t you, doll?

Because roller coasters tend to just end up back at the start.

Jesus LITERALLY Christ, it’s like all your doubling-down on that analogy has done is support exactly what I have been saying this entire bloody time! When this ride is said and done, you’re going to have to start all over again, just like that roller coaster. The picture is going to be the same as it is right now. You’ll still have Leap of Faith. As you will forever. That’s something that no amount of wordplay on my end will take from you, and I say that again now as a sign of good faith between us - as was the case back at the start. But me?

I’ll still have The Universe.

At least you’ll have your fingers too though. I’m not threatening to break them off or anything, but it’s gotta be a relief that you can put that North Cackalacky education to good use and still use those sumbitches to count. Six X-Treme Champions this year, wowee! Three failings on my end! One you!

Counting. Fucking ‘rocket science’, amirite?

Holy moly! He circled on back and stuck the landing with that one, didn’t he?

What a fucking twist! I’m on fire today! Oops! That’s just gonna send us down another rabbit hole.

Come on, mammy, feed me all those words. Do exactly what you’re looking down on me for. Take a perfect dismount off your pretend fucking high horse and come and start thrashing around in all this muck with me. Own it. Own that you’re full of shit. It’ll be much easier for you when everything you say isn’t tinged with the same fucking imposture that both Lou and Bobby brought. We’re three from three here, folks! It’s just a pity that while they were teaching you to finger count at puppy school, they never taught you the difference between a period and a goddamn semicolon.

You want to talk honesty, Tav’? Go listen to what I said last time about why I use your own words in addressing you. It’s about connection for me. It’s just such a shame that you seem so eager to separate yourself from that same part of you that is very clearly bubbling to the surface. I thought you said you wanted to be the real you? Go on then. Fucking do it. Quit all the silly shit about how you’re only playing like this because I am. You fucking started this way, after all.

Need a push? Let me be a model for you.

Are you ready?

I approached Leap of Faith wrong.

Is that a contradiction? Fuck outta here with that rookie shit! It would be if I were denying it now. But how are you gonna say it’s a contradiction if someone finds out information after the fact, takes that information on board, and then changes their mind? I don’t think that’s how that word works, bud. But why are you even asking that question, Tav’? This shouldn’t be news to you! You must not have quite gotten back to the Chris Chaos tapes yet, because I definitely owned that mistake like immediately after Leap of Faith. You must have also used some more of that superpowered selective hearing that’s been on display here so far - I thought wolves were supposed to hear good?

Tavora, I owned that again here from the get go.

I said it, remember? It’s different. I’m different. Because I don’t care about putting your head on a pike. And like you, I don’t care about championships or accolades or fame or money.

I care about The Universe and what it does for me.

My Universe.

Let me tell you… it gives me something a whole lot more valuable than the respect you’re seeking.

It gives me everything.”

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