Liberation

A short story set in the Dropverse.

Two figures stood in the doorway, obscured by a flood of light.

“Well. Fuck, you were serious. Does anyone else know what you guys dragged back here?”

“Ain’t said a word. Wanted to get you first.”

“Don’t you try and shift responsibility for this thing onto me.”

“Just needed your thoughts, man. This prize ain’t anyone but me and Lumusi’s.”

“What sort of game you two playing to win this shit?”

“C’mon man, just take a closer look.”

The shorter of the two moved into the room and hunched down.

Disgusting.

It stared for a moment, then spoke while getting up to leave.

“We need to bring this up at Gathering.”

The slam of the door accompanied a return to darkness.

This deep in the bedrock, the presence of that overpowering will they had known since spawn was absent. It was bewildering. The world was not meant to be like this. All they had known was defined with respect to the greater, allowed only brief tastes of satisfaction with the stock and the lessers, to lash out with the anger expected of them.

So it was then, but was it now?

They pushed their host to slam a fist into the wall, lacerating the skin against the rusted metal, and bathed in the chorus of neurons ringing out their song.

Was this the joy of dominance with no tithe to pay? An intoxicating rush.

The chains had been loosened enough to allow them to prop themselves up against the wall. They laid still on the floor.

This was obscene, bordering on surreal. The stock could think themselves in a position of power, but no matter their physical assertions, it was impossible for them to understand what it meant to exert themselves in the assemblage. No respect was due their puffery, nor ever could be.

“Like a sulking child, eh? We were betting on this or a tantrum. There’s still time for both, at least.”

Anger at the feelings of impunity grew.

“We know you’ve gotta be pretty new to that person.”

Not enough strength left in the host to break free. Listening as these delusional animals flapped their throats around was unbearable.

“I’m sure you’re curious as to why we didn’t just cut you out and leave you strung up in the streets to bake in the sun like so many of you before.”

No more could be withstood. They would gamble on the chains being long enough to leap out and crush the jabbering head before the others would be able to open fire. Even if they didn’t make it, a dignified suicide of proper rage was preferable to this.

They clenched their hands in preparation and felt the wounds from earlier ache. An ache all their own.

The idea of losing such a pleasure, a delight they did not have to share, was even more unbearable than the prattling.

“We left some water and food. Take what you want, doesn’t matter to me.”

They waited until the footsteps had long since receded before reaching for the bottle. The pain of dehydration was growing harder to shunt.

The door opened, but there was no light. They heard the sound of multiple bodies entering the room, and then a sharp jab as something pierced their host’s neck. They pushed to swing their arm upwards.

It did not move. None of the nerves on that arm were responding. A paralytic agent. They hesitated a moment while deciding whether to cut off the beating of the heart, still caught in the euphoria of their autonomy, and the moment was all the agent needed to lock them out of control. Only sensory input remained.

“Checks out. I’m not sure what the admiral will think when she gets confirmation.”

“Not like there’s anything to do but keep ’em on ice until the eggheads figure something out. Whatever. The lieutenant should be done arranging things with these louts, get that gurney in here so we can head back.”

A silent howl rocked through the still body.