Vol. 108: The credits have been completed in an entirely different style at great expense and at the last minute.
With the whole of the multiversal senate quelled into exhausted submission the video played on. And what they saw was… not good.
The Xerxes, specifically Kryxflixtx, paraded Braunon around the room like a prize bull. He was made to perform demeaning tricks and acts of power to “demonstrate he was ‘the real deal’” His every orifice was examined in graphic detail to show that “no damage had been done to the merchandise” after which there was static and chatter off screen as Pckxly, absolutely exasperated, tried again and again to explain to Kryxflixtx that he could not continue to call prisoners “merchandise.” Despite this it happened 4 more times…
Raine’s spell was barely holding the vampires, and many others, in place. The anger spread like a warm pool of oil covering the entire senate. The Animus Captain glanced at Raine nervously despite herself. Raine did not look away from the video.
Finally, Kryxflixtx literally smacked Braunon on the ass and dismissed him to which Pckxly sighed deeply and shook his body in disappointment.
The video ended with another rattled plea by Kryxflixtx for the Multiversal Senate to “Come to their aid.” Which sometimes came out as, “Serve us with your very lives”, Two more times before they wrapped it up.
A pack of Spidee (the spiderlike creatures the Xerxes keep as pets) had gathered behind them and seemed to be playfully fighting over the scraps of the slaughtered cow that remained on stage. Kryxflixtx let out a crystalline whistle and the pack followed him off stage. Pckxly lingered behind for a few moments but then seemed to hear someone calling him off stage and simply floated away looking quite defeated. And then the gore covered stage sat empty again. And the shot continued.
There was an exceedingly long pause. Lights were turned off on the stage and soon it was almost completely dark on the video. A single bright square of light showcased a small section of the altar. And finally, a shadow darting quickly across it.
There is a rustling of the camera and we are suddenly looking at an extreme closeup of Pckxly. One bright teal eye is pressed right against the lens and we can hear him breathing a heavy wet breath.
“This will have to be quick.” He says his eyes darting left to right. “Listen that did… not go as practiced. This is all very new to us…” the camera shifted slightly as if he was losing his grip on it. His eye smeared across the lens.
“We will be exterminated without your help.” He breathed wetly on the lens. “Rest assured we can rebalance our collective mind to do what is… right.” There was a noise off stage and Pckxly stood in absolute silence. A long creaking sound and then Pckxly spoke again.
“Kryxflixtx only represents a part of our whole. You will see our other facets are quite strong as well.” He seemed to relax slightly and then looked with his many eyes directly at the screen. “Please. Do not let us be wiped out. We have much to offer still.” He ended and laid the camera down gently. A click. The screen went black.
There was a long hesitation in the senate chamber, and throughout the multiverse as many wondered if it was really over. Raine nodded to the Animus Captain and slowly the lights rose back to normal levels. Many squinted in the new light.
As light filled the room it seemed to break Raines spell completely. Various strong emotions passed around the room and throughout the multiverse. What had they all just watched? Was this all an elaborate joke? Braunon was alive? Who else might still exist on the Xerxes cloaked home worlds? Chatter began to swell.
A vampire leader stood up and magically amplified their voice incredibly loud to be heard above the din. “The vampires demand to be allowed to speak!” The room grew quickly quiet and a Naga senator seconded the motion.
The vampire spoke literally spitting with fury, “The Xerxes be damned! Let the Dark Dwarves take them! The only thing that matters is rescuing Braunon!!!” The entirety of the Nighttide cheered.
But as the cheering subsided Raine said, “No.”
“No?!” the vampire said hotly to Raine.
“No.” Raine said meeting the vampire’s gaze. “That is NOT the only thing that matters.”
The vampire looked away aloofly and laughed. “Of course, you do not care about Braunon! He is the TRUE Qazferatu!” Many vampires cheered at this.
“He may be.” Raine said causing many vampires to look at him in surprise. But Raine continued quickly. “Here is what I think…”
Raine began to walk around the senate floor. And he spoke. “First we WILL be rescuing Braunon. Whatever the senate decides to do about the Xerxes, I…” He stopped walking and speaking but did not look at anything in particular. After a very quick pause he began to move and speak again. “WE will not allow him to be used as a bargaining chip.”
“However, “ he said looking up at the senate. “We should not allow the Xerxes to die.” At this another wave of chatter moved across the room.
A centaur spoke, “This ‘plea’ from them is a farce. No race could be this out of touch, to send us… THIS.”
A human also weighed in, “It is hard to believe this was their best effort. How would we even begin to take them seriously?”
More murmuring. But Raine began again. “I also find what we have seen here today… bizarre. And believe me. I KNOW bizarre…” it seemed he could not help a small smile from forming on his face. “But even I know almost nothing about the Xerxes. The 5 themselves have had almost no dealings with them. It seems their race perceives all of reality much differently than we do.” He paused and swept the room with a gaze.
“Here is what I suggest:” He started again moving around the senate floor but the opposite direction now. “I will lead a team to go and rescue Braunon.” And before the vampires could protest he addressed them directly. “Vampires and Nighttide. Choose your 12 greatest warriors to accompany me. We will take my ship.”
Before they could speak, Raine once again continued. “To the senate I leave the choice of what will be done with the Xerxes to you. I imagine the rescue mission will take some time, so use this time to weight your options. Perhaps there is more to be found in the bizarre files they have sent us. Whatever you decide I will support. But.” He gave a very stern look to the senate. “I implore you to not let them die. The Xerxes may have been a thorn in the paw of the multiverse since time unremembered, but they are still a living race, with hopes, dreams, and destinies. And I too believe they have something more to give to the multiverse in their own time.”
Raine looked at the Animus Captain and winked at her and said so only she could hear, “Now would be a very good time to call the meeting to close.” And he walked past her towards the Nighttide.
The Captain quickly composed herself and rung a large bell. “The meeting is adjourned.” She spoke. “You may conduct your own business as you please but please clear the senate chambers.”
Many seemed unhappy about the abrupt ending but obliged slowly. Only the Nighttide remained. One of the lead vampires stood and addressed Raine. “So what’s your plan, Raine Xavier Thornblade?” his tone was almost snarky.
“The Third.” Raine added and then said, “Pick your warriors and have them meet me in hanger 13. I will unveil my plan there.”
About the illustrations: Here we have a mage guy, an assassin, and some brothers you may recognize doing some fantasy play.
We are also on Facebook!