Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0


    About the Other Day...

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    About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:06 pm

    Time: 18:30
    Date: September 3rd, 2011

    A day had passed since then. An entire twenty-four hours and not a disturbance in-between. That was ample breathing room, wasn't it? A day, right? Maybe.

    Hoping it wasn't after hours or anything imposing, Zurg found his way up to Jo's shop. Her chop shop. It didn't seem busy today, which suited his needs just fine, so he didn't hesitate as he pushed himself through the door and spied within. Proxy was mysteriously absent. Even better. With no one around to complicate things or make matters worse, the Evil Emperor quietly walked across the shop floor and sneaked past the service counter. Imagining a man carrying several hundred pounds of armour while trying to remain light on the toes was a feat of itself. Wearing heels for decades was useful after all. But enough about that. It was mindless jabber that he didn't need right now. Right now he needed to descend down the stairs and creak downwards he did.

    The first thing he noticed upon entering the lower level was the sound of work and toil. Hammer strikes, crying metal, and... some really off-the-wall band singing some sort of powerhouse metal. Was that a local band from back home or something from another world? The question wasn't the most important and he shoved it mentally aside before continuing down the narrow corridor. It always was too thin for his broad shoulders and he had to crab-walk.

    The second thing he noticed, which was the most important, was a door that blocked his path. He knew full well who was behind this door fast at work, so... should he intrude? Technically he was breaking and entering as he didn't have permission, maybe trespassing as well, but it didn't hurt to make himself known. He came here to be out in the open anyway, not lurk in the shadows as he normally did. Yes, he was going to open the door slowly and address himself. There was a slight creak underneath the rocked out twangs of a guitar, easily drowned out by the drums.

    Knock, knock, knock!

    Polite and to the point.

    His part done, Zurg remained there and waited for Jo to stop what she was doing. Looked like she was working on something. Something important? Seemed so. "Hi, Jo. You seem busy." He pointed out. "Is this a bad time? I can come again later, maybe during the morning." Surely this could wait for another day, right? Maybe.

    If she didn't want to talk then he wasn't going to force her to. This could wait for another day.


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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:26 am

    Six-thirty, on a good day, meant that Jo had just closed shop a half hour ago. The fact that Zurg found no one around meant that there hadn't been much business for Proxy to linger, so the robot had ultimately gone his own way. But Jo still had that specific commission to handle which she'd had since April, and all of her mechanic senses were rioting at the fact. It had taken so long because, truthfully, Jo was better at making things than programming them. But it wasn't everyday people came to her for such complex machines, and she'd been delighted at the prospect of providing a customer with something better than she'd been hoping for. She came to her seeking a training machine, and the mechanic suggested holograms to make it even more realistic. A hologram could simulate complex movements that no machine, unless they were a robot, could hope to ever accomplish.

    Sometimes, she wondered how she got into these messes. She pressed the back of her hand against her forehead, riddled with sweat, then resumed hammering out the extra padding the machine would need for added protection. She would worry about the finer programming points -- wait, was that a knock on the door? Who the cosmos was it at this hour?

    It wasn't the wisest thing to leave softened metal on the forge, so with a few final hammers, Jo withdrew the slab of metal and dipped it into a bucket, the water hissing and steam boiling forth. She lowered the heat's intensity on the forge, then turned towards the door, climbing up the stairs. Not knowing who it could be, she loosened a hammer from her tool belt and held it loosely in her left hand by her thigh as she opened the door with her right.

    She blinked, taking in Zurg standing before her. A rush of emotions she thought she'd taken care of swarmed over her again and her grips around the hammer and doorframe tightened. "Uh, no, it's okay. I finished with the one piece, so it's not like I've got anything on the forge burning!" She was glad to see him, but also a bit apprehensive. There must be a reason he was here. Had something happened?

    She began to descend the stairs, putting the hammer back on her belt. Just keep cool and casual, like nothing's wrong. Yeah, she could do that. "Make yourself at home. I don't have the best accommodations at hand, but I can bring up a simple chair and maybe a snack or something. You thirsty?"
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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:42 am

    Didn't turn him away? Oh, he hadn't prepared himself for that... He had half been expecting to be sent away! Blast, he messed up on that one. Way to go! Quickly, alter the plan and say something productive. "Uh..." Eh, we'll work on it.

    At being asked if he were thirsty Zurg politely declined by shaking his head and fanning a hand. "Oh, no. I'm good, but thank you. I will choose to remain standing." Because standing was rather nice and sitting implied at ease. And so, on he went, entering the bottom work area of Jo's shop and boy, it was much too hot in here. Much too hot. A finger tugged on his mantle as if that would alleviate the intense heating, but it would do little good. Thankfully his personal air unit picked up the slack. Otherwise he would have to make this all rather brief and concise. Hardly good on either end.

    Now, there were several things he noticed because that's what Zurg did to people: he cased them and discerned how to navigate through the situation. Jo was obviously apprehensive; she held her hammer tighter and remained facing him nearly all the time. A sign of wariness or perhaps anxiety? Or, maybe she thought he was a burglar or wanted to be a hospitable host? Maybe.

    His eyes drifted to the current project upon the table and he kept out of the way as Jo went at it. "Oh, is that the contraption you were telling me about a few days ago?" The sparring machine, right? He remembered that it was holographic in design and nature. A rather ingenious decision. "It looks rather good, like it's coming along." But, let's be frank. He wasn't here to talk about her work. He should sometime as showing interest promoted encouragement, but on another day.

    Today he was going to ask her something else. "Anyway, as much as I'd like to talk about what fascinating things you have created, I am here to talk about... something else." He glided away from the forge and instead clung to somewhere cooler. "The other day we kind of had a, ah, tense moment in the Sanctuary." Slightly underestimating the confrontation. "Because of that I just wanted to come by and see how you were doing. Or... if you wanted to talk about anything." Hey, this was a big thing, alright? Zurg didn't normally come down from his work to check up on people so he was trying to show some effort in this.

    Hopefully Jo would have something to say, even if it was a simple "No, go away. I don't want to talk about anything."


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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:01 am

    In all honesty, she did have a brief desire to close the door in his face, but... what kind of message would that send? She wasn't angry at him and she didn't want him to get the wrong idea. She was just feeling... she didn't really know what she was feeling. She'd tried to avoid thinking about anything other than her work today, even though she felt exhausted and wished she could sleep without anything plaguing her thoughts.

    "Suit yourself. I'll be getting a drink." She opened a small fridge she had in the corner and removed a soda, opening it with a crack and taking a swig. Ah, that was crisp and refreshing and hit the spot. She wiped the rest of the sweat on her face away with the back of her arm, noting the grime that came off along with it. Her face must look like a mess.

    "Yeah, that's Cindy's machine. It's still got a lot of small problems I need to work out, but I think I'm getting there." Not too long now. Was he here to check the machine out like he said he would? Hadn't Lawrence said he'd help? But why was Zurg here alone then?

    But, naturally, he hadn't come here for that. He'd come over to talk about what happened yesterday. With a sigh, Jo turned back to him and settled down on a stool, leaning her body forwards so her elbows could rest on her knees. She gripped the soda can and took another sip. "Yeah," she said, looking down at her feet. "It was, uh, tense." Did she want to talk about this? But if she didn't, would it fester like some disease? Would it be best to talk it out? But what was there to say? But Zurg had come here for a reason. It meant he was putting effort into this. It meant he cared... right?

    She looked up at him, feeling her mouth going dry despite the sip of soda she'd had moments before. "I'm... okay. I could be better, but okay's alright." Bah, what a lame reply! But it wasn't like she could say she was fine when she wasn't. "So... what about you? How're you feeling? And what do you want to talk about?" And there he had it. The dreaded word feeling. Maybe this would be a nudge in the right direction, maybe a poke that would lead to disaster. But they had to start somewhere.
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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:24 am

    Oh, it seemed she did have some things to say! Good to know that all wasn't lost down the cosmic crapper. As for how he was feeling? Weeeeell... Zurg shrugged, but not carelessly, and he tipped his head side to side slightly while trying to think. It was a tough question, you know. How did he feel? "I feeeeeel... all right, I think." He concluded the thought on a teeny upbeat note. It sounded like something not quite ready to eat optimism but it was eager to open up a bit if the bite was right. That analogy was mighty weird.

    What was even weirder was that he wasn't doing so well under this pressure already. C'mon, he handled tougher crackdowns before! That time he had to negotiate a tough deal with those scumbag Octopoidals? He could do this with his eyes closed, but he was just over-thinking things. Oh, x'sht, what did he want to talk about again? His mind wiped! It was like a nervous kid standing before a group of lazy-eyed peers, or something. You know the feeling, I'm sure. It wasn't very pleasing!

    "Well, gee." Zurg suddenly snapped his fingers and appeared mighty displeased with himself. "Here I was, coming down to talk with you about things and my mind blanked. Terrific." No need to tell Jo that he had run several scenarios and situations within that scheming head of his on the way here. Of course, what good would those do if he forgot them all? "This is a first, isn't it." He was talking to himself know, weight slightly on one leg with his arms crossed. Of all the things to chicken out on, it was this. But of course, but of course. Life was the ultimate troll, and so was yourself.

    Never one to give up, though, the Evil Emperor made a noise and ended up grabbing a chair of his own. Okay, he was going to sit as standing wasn't helping him any. Besides, sitting down wasn't as imposing as standing and there was no sense in being threatening right now. He set up shop close but not too close, and he remained fairly lax in both body language and tone. "Apparently I forgot what I wanted to say, so you'll have to excuse me. I've been juggling many things at once, but those are excuses." No one wanted to hear those, so let's start up conversation with something nice?

    "How was your day today, Jo?" He asked her, leg draped over the other very much like a human woman would do. What, it was elegant! "Mine was okay. Shalti got stuck in a vent and caused a mild system shutdown. The system thought she was another dragon. She's kind of getting chunky..." He whispered.

    Hey, it was a start.


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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:42 am

    Well, it was a start, and Jo had to give him credit for that. Her lips tugged into a small smile. Maybe after talking things through, they'd both be feeling a little better than "just alright". But the mechanic caught Zurg's fidgets, and it seemed he'd forgotten what he wanted to say. Or maybe not entirely forgotten. More like his tongue had gotten tied up and all the scenarios he'd run through his head didn't match up with what was actually going on. Yeah, that had happened to Jo a lot of times. She knew the feeling.

    But at least he pulled up a chair. That made the mechanic feel more at ease, because hey, Zurg was pretty imposing when he just stood there like a statue. Jo shifted her posture and leaned back against the workbench, letting her arms rest upon the wooden surface as she spread out her legs lazily. "No pressure. Your mind will catch up with your mouth eventually. Take your time."

    She took another sip from her soda, then chortled. "Cosmos, what have you been feeding that cat? I haven't seen that adorable little kitten in ages, but if she's getting stuck in vents now...!" And a dragon? Really? Why would Zurg have a system against dragons? Was he trying to ward Prix off or something?

    "Mine was uneventful. I was a little late for work, but Proxy covered for me. So I'm going to stay here until late to compensate." She'd been tossing and turning quite frequently, waking up every hour, feeling both too hot or too cold. She finally managed to fall asleep around eight and woke up at two. Too late in the day even for Jo's standards.

    The talking, the real talking, would have to pick up sooner or later. Maybe not at the moment, though. The mechanic felt safe with this conversation so far. She wanted to feel relaxed, not troubled like last night, even though she couldn't help but fidget as they danced around the subject. She rubbed the back of her neck and leaned her head back for a moment, closing her eyes. She felt even sorer today than yesterday.

    "And that's pretty much it. I don't lead an interesting life like you do," she teased with a small smile. She didn't mean in retrospect of his past, of course. Just current happenings and goings. She hoped he didn't take it in regards to past events...
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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:07 am

    Hah, don't think he didn't see that smile. Body language was his favourite thing to study! "Eh, I blame thinking in one language and talking with another." Zurg reasoned, making a slight face before coming to terms with his struggling Basic. "You have no idea how hard it is translating one phrase into a completely different perspective. It's like trying to see numbers in the alphabet, I tell you. Anyway..." He fixed his chair and sat up straighter, getting situated. "Shalti is doing very well, but... she's gaining weight, yes. I've been trying to keep her on a healthy diet but you know minions!" Not really, as Jo never had one before. That was just Zurg being Zurg again. "They'll do anything to get under your skin, and that includes feeding the pets even after you've told them not to!" Oh, that sometimes boiled the overlord's blood!

    And him having an interesting life so far? "Pfffft!" The Evil Emperor rolled his eyes and made a most unflattering sound. It was time for an educated talk. "The only thing I did was what I normally did today. I managed the early maintenance, which you know is painfully time-consuming; had a safety meeting about to not play in the waste vats; had an outbreak of sewer vermin; and, and I repeat, and I merely lounged around watched the grubs and brain pods do their little puppet theaters." Whoa, what? Zurg quickly glanced at Jo and held up a firm hand. "Don't ask. They are on a fierce kick to develop their thespian hobbies. I prefer they didn't reenact Rhizomian plays with Raenok elements, but that's just me. I'm not one for outsider poetry and... drama." He said the last word without much enthusiasm. If he had to see one more gross misinterpretation of how Rhizomians court their lovers then he was going to rip out his eyes and use the retinas as candlesticks.

    "My life, interesting. I think not. Although, I did have a rather nice lunch, yes..." You know the man found the meal satisfying when he tapped that same-old tooth with that same-old smile as his eyes looked upwards to some invisible corner. Oh, now he remembered what he wanted to talk about! Random, right? That's how he was sometimes. "Now I remembered what I wanted to say!" He just needed to talk in Basic and get things going, that's all! While he was now grinning it quickly turned into a concerned frown and Zurg switched gears. "Jo, be honest with me. Were you upset the other day with our talk in the Sanctuary? I didn't mean it, if you were. Or Lawrence, for that matter. I admit, I kind of ramble and speak my mind but that's just... well, culture clash. Private people, loud mouths." A little joke to show that not everything had to be serious. "I'm sorry if I said anything careless. I... know others aren't quite as open, and I don't always remember that. Sometimes I need reminding."

    If Jo had something to interject with now was the time to say it! Zurg was feeling a ramble coming on!


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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:47 am

    It was probably too hard for the mechanic to understand. She only knew one language and thought in one language. Maybe at one point she'd have liked to learn another language, but you usually had to pay extra for that in school, and money certainly wasn't a commodity for her back then. And no, she didn't know how minions were, but she liked it when Zurg talked to her like she knew. She felt more close to his lifestyle then, and it made her feel like she was actually a part of it.

    "Aw, poor Shalti! Maybe she needs to come down here and learn a thing or two from Homo. I swear, that cat's still as sleek as the day we took her in." And always demanding attention. Proxy was her slave and worshipped the ground Homo walked on. It was pretty funny sometimes.

    And all that was pretty boring, but it was work! Jo wondered sometimes, did Zurg even enjoy what he did? He seemed to sometimes, but if it was usually just an endless repeat of maintenance, maintenance, and more maintenance, even the mechanic would grow tired of it. And... puppets? He held up a hand before she could ask, though. But hey, his minions had hobbies, at least! Wonder what Zurg's hobby was. "Do they plan on putting on an actual show?" the mechanic asked curiously. A free play from their galaxy? That might be cool to see sometime!

    And oh, his lunch was interesting, was it? Jo grinned and polished off her soda can, burping and thumping her chest. Don't say that the mechanic was the only one who appreciated good food, then! He began to speak again, and Jo lifted her hand to chuck the can into the trash can. But the moment he mentioned the sanctuary, the can bounced off the trash's rim and clattered to the floor with a few bounces.

    Jo's shoulders sagged and she sighed, but she got up to throw the can away properly. She stuffed her hands in her pockets as she walked back, slowly, but this time she was the one who remained standing, and she avoided making eye contact. Here it was. The talk. She swallowed, moistening her dry lips.

    "I was, a little," she admitted quietly. Maybe that was a bit of an understatement. "It just... it started on society, which was making me mad because Tradeworld was always worse than trash, but I guess I had the naive idea that a society that looked out for everyone would work out. I thought so as a kid. I know it's not true, but to hear about how many societies don't favor the weak? I mean, I know I'm poor. I was always poor. I was lucky enough to even scrape out a living with what I liked doing, but it's not just that."

    And Zurg thought he was going to ramble? He ought to interject soon before Jo began rambling!

    "I guess it was the way you said it that got to me. And after that, it just drifted off to that... other subject." The one that had hit home the most. Lies, truth, death, all mixing up into one. She was never comfortable talking about death. She accepted it and moved on, yes, but whenever she'd come across people on Tradeworld who spoke about offing people like what they ate for dinner, or people who just gave in to despair and wanted to give up...? She'd try not to let it seem like it affected her. Back there, it had been easy to blend into the crowd and not be noticed. But here? The second you felt uncomfortable, everyone was on you wondering what was wrong. True, Jo didn't like seeing people who were upset any more than the next person, but she didn't like sharing her feelings or talking about what was bothering her most of the times. So she wasn't even sure why she opened her mouth next to even say so.

    "I just don't feel comfortable whenever the topic drifts to... death," she finally mumbled, looking down at her feet. She felt uncomfortable standing, but she couldn't even bring herself to sit down at the moment. This was a side of her she avoided showing to anyone. She felt naked, like all of her defenses had been cast down. It was also one of the reasons she didn't understand why people took death so lightly here. Sure, you could come back, but... that wasn't right. But then, what was right? Why was this place so upside-down?!
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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:51 am

    "Oh, now don't you start." Zurg objected, throwing a hand as Jo got those big eyes of hers. He knew what that meant. "The moment you start encouraging minions is the moment you regret ever showing sympathy at all. It's bad enough they try to read me their awful plays, many thinking they are playwrights, while some wondering if they can start a franchise. A franchise, Jo. On Planet Z. I don't think so." If there was anything the Evil Emperor was defensive with, it was always his planet. No fast food chains at every corner, thank you! "They're not going to start an actual show as I am never going to allow it." Never say never, Zurg. The last time he said that he fell in -- well, you know.

    Things would have continued to take a pleasant route but of course, the ball was dropped and it was time to roll. Clearly Jo's demeanour changed at the drop of a dime and Zurg was keen on picking it up right away. It was in her posturing, her voice, and in her confidence. He listened quietly out of respect, hearing what she had to say, and not a word escaped his mouth until she was done speaking.

    Society? Death? Heavy subjects, but why was she worried about those? "I find it interesting." Not that he was sounding insulting, which he wasn't, but Zurg shifted his legs and clasped his hands together upon his lap as he spoke. "The issues that bother people are the ones they have no power over. For me, it's my minions and their awful dramas. Just awful." Some humour for Jo so she didn't feel so put on the spot. "Death and society; neither able to be fully controlled by any person or government. Intangible concepts that can never be grasped on a literal whole. And yet... and yet, we worry about such things as if we can do anything about them. Can we?" It was a largely rhetorical question and he didn't expect the mechanic to rightfully answer. "Society is cruel. People are cruel. Hence, I keep away from both if I can. And if I had to choose, I would prefer death over society. You can only guess which is more merciful and absolute." Why would Jo concern herself with such horrible things? She was neither a ruler or a person looking for immortality. Such heavy thought would depress her outlook on life. Ah, but he was the same way, no? This cynicism that kept him on his toes; that told him to be wary of everyone and everything.

    "I wouldn't fret over it, Jo." He softly told her. She was vulnerable and he saw it. "Life is too precious for you to waste away thinking about how horrible the world is. The truth is, it's both horrible and wonderful. Surely not everything in life is absolutely terrible, yes? There are some highlights, despite how hypocritical I am right now." Another pass at humour, but slightly more subtle. "I will admit that I tend to linger on these subjects and see things from a jaded viewpoint. I am a ruler, Jo. I... I guess I comprehend things differently because of that. It's not all sunshine and rainbows, that's for sure." But as for death?

    Here was where his thinking truly differed and the alien in him shone out with some polish and spit. "...This is probably a culture thing, but..." He began, thinking. "We saw death as... natural, and that is not to say that you don't or humans don't, but... we understood that people's lives were ultimately finite. Killing, murder, natural, suicide; death is death. From the moment you are born you are destined to die. Does this bother you?" He then realized just how insensitive the question was, and he slowly closed his eyes before sighing. "I'm sorry, that was a little too bold. We were kind of like that, too. What I meant to say was, why feel uncomfortable about when it is a perfectly natural and beautiful thing? In death there is peace, and in death there are fond memories to be had. There is an understanding, Jo. To live is to die, and everything -- even the stars and galaxies -- follow the same route. Fools like Morgana know not what they've wrought when they tamper with the natural order of things." If it wasn't apparent already, Zurg's people were fiercely adamant against changing the nature of the Cosmos from how they were intended to be.

    But, he had a feeling that death wasn't what really bothered her. Or, it wasn't the bulk of her issue with it. It was him wasn't it? Of what he said? "Ah, yes. My lingering feeling of sadness. I see now." Took him a while, but he finally did.

    Without a word he got up from his seat and strode forward a few steps, his back turned and his hands pressed together. When it seemed like several seconds of silence had passed he then turned around and tapped his fingers as the words formed within his head. "How should I put it, Jo..." How was Zurg going to explain himself in a way that didn't sound offensive or harsh? "As you know, the bulk of us are all social beings. We have our own communications, our ways, our beliefs, and our norms. We are social creatures, and the Raenoks do fit this category. Now, I want you to pretend for a moment. Close your eyes if you think that will help." Once she had done that he continued, the man walking around and his voice shifting from area to area. "You are whatever you want to be, however you want to look like. You live on your world with others like you. They walk like you, talk like you, think like you. You identify with them and feel content because you feel like you belong. Sure, why not? You feel comfortable and grow good, and bad, memories with these people. They're you, and you're them. It's a wonderful feeling, to belong. It's really satisfying. Now, forget about it all." There was a chilling moment of silence before Zurg's voice came from behind.

    "Forget about them all. Their sounds, their smells, their looks, their ways; everything. Forget about your home world. It's gone, too. How do you feel? I bet you feel lost and confused, don't you? Yes, lost and confused. Let's move on. Imagine, now... that you go somewhere else because home is strange. You go far away, on a journey let's say. Ah, here! You find a spot to rest and then... you see strange creatures. Why, they don't sound like you, smell like you, or even look like you. You think to yourself, how ugly they are! You wait around and keep quiet, hoping they don't notice you because you are afraid of them and their differences." A pause. "One day, you decide to come out, curious. By now you have spent some time studying these strange creatures. You can start to mimic their voices, their sounds. You practice their walks and quirks. After a while you think to yourself, this isn't so hard! Hah, I can sound like them and walk like them, but they're still ugly and smelly. Yes, I can do this quite well! Then you get comfortable." Another pause as the story progressed. "By now you can fully sound like them, walk like them, and even think like them. You are flawless. You know their ways their gestures, and even their names by now. What do you do? You can't go home as you no longer think about home. You think about strange creatures, to which you no longer find ugly or smelly. You think they are quiet the opposite, fascinating. So, one day after all your hard work, you go to finally make contact with them. Why not?"

    "So there you are, walking up to these amazing creatures and you greet them. Surely, with your perfect mannerisms and speech they shall welcome you warmly and accept you as one of their own." Again a pause, but this one was unlike the others. In fact, this one was much more distant and hollow. "But to your horror... they laugh at you. They call you names and jeer. What are you, you ugly creature? Are you lost? We don't want you, silly thing. Go away, go back home. You are not like us. Naturally, you are immediately taken aback by their sneers and rude snickers. You calmly tell them again, and politely, that you want to be like them now. But again, they shove you away and tell you to leave. They don't want you. Go back home, they repeat. Home. Do you remember home? Of course not. You forgot about it, remember? To you, this is home. This place that holds these cold and inconsiderate strangers. What do you do? What can you do? It is then, alas, that you realize... you were living a lie. You could not find home or find others like you because, sadly, you forgot about them. You don't know where to begin. How could you? You're just... there, now. Discarded and forgotten yourself, aren't you? How do you feel now? I bet you feel completely distraught and scared. There is no home, and they don't want you. You don't belong, and you don't remember. You ultimately have no identity and now, you merely stand there. You stand there and don't know where to go from here on in. You are lost, and there is nothing to help you find your way." More silence. "You may open your eyes now."

    By the time Jo was brought to her awareness Zurg was now sitting back in his chair, body leaned forward and hands out before him, pressed together and slightly rocking. His gaze was rigidly ahead, and his eyes did not leave that very spot. "You know what I think is the worst form of crime you could ever do to a person, Jo?" He answered before she could. "Taking away their sense of identity. Oh, yes. That is a rather vile crime if you were ever to commit one. But let me go on. You have any idea what it's like to get all sorts of names and stares? Sure you do. You were a human living on Tradeworld. Humans weren't liked in certain areas of Tradeworld. But, and here comes the kicker, did you ever feel truly alone, Jo?" Again, he replied before she could. "Maybe you did, maybe you didn't. But, and remember this, you always had a human face to see. A human voice to hear. A human... to recognize as human." Finally Zurg sat up straighter and he looked at her with a small, yet saddened smile upon his face. "Sure, you breed like roaches and can't be exterminated no matter how hard you try, but... you had each other no matter what. If a colony world was attacked, the humans would rise as one and fulfill this intergalactic identity that could never be quashed. Through this alone you were immortal in unity. I've never seen anything like that, and neither had the rest of the galaxy. For that, I am quite happy and... envious of you, Jo."

    "You know what? I'm going to tell you a secret Jo, because I like you. Just a little~! Shh." Do not let the alien fool you, Jo. Despite his smiling it wasn't one accustomed with happiness -- it was one of those sorrowful, lost smiles that the person ached to show as they didn't rightfully know what else to do in such a lost state. "I have nightmares. No big surprise, but did you know this? I have nightmares about my people." Zurg shrugged like it was no big deal. "I've had quite a few in my day, but that's not the secret. The secret is, Jo, is that... I'm home. I'm home, and it's wonderful. Oh, the smells and sights I recall. It's like I'm there, but I'm not. It's just a stupid dream. Anyway, I hear life going on as if nothing happened, and when I desire to talk with them... the words don't come out. It's gibberish. I had forgotten my language." As he spoke, Zurg stared at the wall like in a trance and the man shifted for a better posture. "It is only then I realize, after they gawk at me, that I was speaking Basic all this time. And, oh, if there was one thing we did not do it was speak the filthy language of the outsiders. That was heresy and considered betrayal. Yes, it was. Of course, I didn't mind their stares and shocked expressions. I got them all the time. I didn't care." He snorted. "But... when the dream went to my father? Ohhhh, yes. That's when it becomes increasingly uncomfortable. I do not like seeing my father in any of my dreams. Never did. Just never did. Can you imagine the look on his face?!"

    A sudden laugh rocked the room without warning and Zurg slapped his knee while practically in stitches. "He would say -- get this, Jo -- !" There was then a long string of alien words and the Evil Emperor ended up laughing again, clearly enjoying something that was utterly morbid. "Oh, but I'm sorry! You wouldn't know!" He said between gasps of air as he started to settle down. "He basically said, loosely, How DARE you speak the language of those barbaric outsiders on these proud lands! Have you no sense of pride and honour of those before you!? No son nor Grace shall DARE to utter a single syllable of that heathen tongue!" Zurg dropped the huffy, deep tone and snickered immediately after. "Oh, it kills me every time. His face would just blow up and he'd get these clicks because he's so gosh darn mad. It's funny, it really is. Let's just say that my father... didn't like your kind, Jo. Said that you were impatient, hormonal primates desiring to kill for faulty ideals and to repopulate like madmen. He really said that, no lie. Never going to forget that rant. I wonder what he would say knowing that I'm a complete heretic and I speak the heathen tongue." There was a roll of his eyes and an alien gesture Jo wouldn't understand. "May he rest in peace, because I really don't give a flying fluug'hhek -- don't repeat that, because it's very insulting in Phlegmian. Ah, well..."

    There was a lengthy sigh and Zurg perked up. "So, I guess to say after all that, because I am a windbag and a rambler, I... I miss home... I really do miss home, Jo." And here was the real feeling that Zurg could not so easily convey. This immense, suffocating weight of sadness. "I want to go home, I want to see them again, I want to be what I am where I belong but I can't!" He suddenly shouted, frustrated. "I cannot go home, because it doesn't exist anymore! I cannot see them again because they are gone! And I cannot be what I am because if I try, oh if I try, I just remember everything about what makes me so miserable..." His growl was almost scary, wild, and eyes aglow. It took everything in his willpower to not set something of Jo's aflame. "I can't be like them, because I have to be an outsider now. I have to endear my dead father's glares in my nightmares because I don't think like him anymore -- like them. I'm like you, now, Jo. An outsider. Go home? What home. My ancestral home, if you will, is a barren, red wasteland. That's it. Truths. A dead hunk of floating space rock. Yes. You just can't possibly imagine the extent of my frustration and denial right now. Took me fifty years to actually reach this far, but yes. Lots of frustration and denial." By the speed and emotion in Zurg's voice you could tell he was upset and incredulous about his entire predicament, almost as if... he looked down upon it. The sneer on his face said that much.

    "So there you have it, Jo." He then turned to face her and he looked mighty disgruntled. "I guess I did have something to talk about. I'm so glad we had this discussion. I like to vent, don't I? Yes, I do. I also like to shout. What I do not like, however, is to be sad. To be sad all the time, every day, every hour, every second. I am sad all the time because I have no identity... You can't possibly know what that is like. None of you." He groaned, now in visible emotional pain. "I hate it so... so much...!" Zurg rasped. "I hate life, I hate society, I hate death! And yet, out of so many here I know the most! I also hate irony, because it's ridiculous and it's stupid. It's all stupid. And yes!" He barked. "I'm being childish and throwing a tantrum! I'm only 254 and from the very moment I was born I was told to be 500 and to act like everyone was watching my every move! I think I deserve a little moment to myself, here! AUUUUUUGH!"

    Commence the frustration as Zurg finally exhausted himself, the Evil Emperor mock-screaming into his hands. Give him a moment, give him a moment. "Auuuuugh... this is humiliating." He sat up and sighed upwards to the ceiling, eyes closed and defeated at last. "It's bad enough my emotions are out of line because I was never taught how to control them, and it's even worse that I'm having a meltdown in front of you, Jo! You probably think I'm crazy, but I'm not! I'm just an incredibly sad, miserable person. I need to get a hold of myself as this is embarrassing. Graces don't act like this! We didn't even act like this! Damn it! That's... a bad Basic phrase, isn't it? Damn it!" He repeated, with more determination. "And as for your lingering thought of which you find too hard to say..." He glanced at her again, completely settled in that second alone. "I can't kill myself, and I never will, because A) I can't end my proud people on a suicide. Absolutely no way. B) if there is an afterlife, my father will never let it go. My mother will just shake her head. And C), which is the most important..." The look of crushing sadness returned and this time, Zurg looked Jo in the eyes with most tired, defeated gaze he had ever worn. "I love you, Jo. I love Lawrence. I love Red. I love Xenon. I love anyone who ever cared two shits about me. That's a bad word too, isn't it? Anyway, to kill myself knowing there are people who care about me would be the most insulting and hurtful thing I could ever do in my life. I can't do that. I cannot."

    And there, finally, was Jo's answer. Or answers.

    "Oh, I'm sorry again. I hijacked the conversation. I tend to do that." Zurg groaned out of weariness and he brought a hand to his eyes for alleviating the pressure behind them. Good Cosmos, he felt worn out from that. "Please, if you have anything else to say go ahead and say it, Jo. You deserve to, I don't mind. Please, by all means."

    You would think the man had just given birth to a baby by the way he sounded so drained. Yeah, birth to his confessions.

    (Good god, I have to go to bed after this. Good night, Jo. I hope you can handle this crap!)


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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:47 pm

    Jo snorted at that, even going so far as to roll her eyes. "Oh, come on, Big Z, a little caving in every now and again won't hurt! And they wouldn't have to do it on Planet Z. They could always try something out on Portal Breach." But, of course, knowing Zurg, he'd probably say that would be giving them too much freedom, encourage independent thinking, and might eventually lead up to some sort of revolt or rebellion. He was always so stubborn when it came to showing a little compassion towards his minions.

    But, naturally, the discussion took a far different and serious turn when Jo quietly admitted that she was uncomfortable with the subject of death. It was hard for her to explain, and she didn't think she'd even managed to explain her sentiments properly. There were just so many reasons to not like death, and so much to be angry about over the so-called government and their warped structure of society. Why couldn't society be changed? Someone thought up of it in the first place! Why then couldn't someone change it, maybe slowly and from within? Why were all civilizations doomed to repeat the same mistakes and never be able to rise above them and change for the better?

    But Zurg was right. Jo was spending too much effort worrying about something she had no control over. She hadn't even had actual control when she had Zurg's powers. She could have crushed Portal Breach if she was that kind of person. But the mechanic wanted change to happen naturally, without the threat of tyranny or oppression. And Portal Breach wasn't as bad as Tradeworld was, or in fact her entire galaxy back home. After what she'd learned last night, Portal Breach was much more welcome, even though its societal rules were lax. But... even a lax society did no good. In that aspect, Portal Breach was no better than Tradeworld.

    "I guess not," she admitted. Why fret when it was out of her power and she couldn't do a thing? No, that was how the old Jo used to think. The young, naive Jo who thought that if she had power, she could change the world and make it a better place. She let go of that fantasy when she was eleven and the only reason it caught up with her again yesterday was because of all that talk on society.

    She did manage a smile at his words, though. "Hypocritical or not, I can still find things to smile about and help me feel better." And no, Jo didn't think everything was sunshine and rainbows either, but she could think of a lot of small and simple things that made her happy and helped her get by. Maybe that was something Zurg needed. To focus on what made him happy -- and he better not start saying nothing did -- and to try to keep the dark thoughts at bay. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done.

    And then the topic turned to death again, and here the mechanic fidgeted, fingering her worn leather belt to have something to do with her hands. She opened her mouth to try to explain that it wasn't that she found death unnatural -- she knew she would die someday, after all -- and it was violent death that she was opposed to, but then he asked if it bothered her. She closed her mouth again, her gaze downcast. Well, violent deaths bothered her, yes. She didn't find murder or suicide or accidents at all natural -- and they didn't make the pain any less. In fact, violent deaths intensified the pain. If a death came naturally, at a slow pace and at its time, like the sweet old lady who had been her neighbor for a few years, Jo found it easier to cope with. She was terminally ill, but she'd kept on living, and to finally see her go had been a relief because she was no longer in pain. But then again, were deaths from illnesses any more natural?

    "The memories aren't always fond..." As much as she tried, the young woman would never forget the night she lost her parents. Sometimes, she couldn't help the images that came to mind. They simply sprung up whenever loss struck her. It wasn't often, thankfully, but there were some days, like her birthday, when it was hard to think about anything else. And Zurg must feel the same -- and even worse -- in regards to his own situation. Despite his talk... he didn't fully accept it either, did he?

    She frowned when he told her to close her eyes. What was he trying to get at? But she did close them, drawing a quick breath and squaring her shoulders, forming her hands into fists. She felt a little nervous and defenseless standing in the middle of the room and not being able to see what was going on, but Zurg's voice was soothing, and she found herself relaxing at the story-like tale he told. She held her tongue, because imagining a world full of humans was a little hard for her, even though she had met a lot of humans on Tradeworld over time.

    Zurg's voice came from behind, and Jo had the feeling that he was walking around, creating some sort of atmosphere with his tale, and it warped and shaped the images in her mind, momentarily feeling like there was something ominous pressing in all around her.

    She imagined another place, and unwittingly, people who looked similar to Zurg sprang to mind. She would never call Zurg ugly, but upon first seeing someone who looked like him she would admit to fear and surprise. She didn't think she'd ever be able to get the hang of Zurg's culture simply by observing, but she probably would find them fascinating. She was fascinated by most alien cultures, because as a human, she didn't feel like she had any sort of culture. And she didn't know if she'd ever have the guts to approach them when they looked so different... and there came the crux of this tale. People judged others by their physical appearances too much, and used it as the means to define and separate. But his words cut deep, and Jo caught her hands trembling. No sense of belonging... where, then, did you belong? And how could you belong when you could not return home and you cannot call your new place home? A stranger in a strange land... with nothing. Just nothing.

    She opened her eyes when he told her so and she had to blink several times due to the black spots dotting her vision. She saw him sitting on the chair stiffly, looking at nothing in particular. All she could really do at this point was listen, listen and process his words. Yes, she had received stares and glares and even name-calling. And not just by aliens, but by humans, as well. And when she'd been younger, after the loss of her parents she'd felt terribly, irrevocably, alone. That feeling had never fully gone away, but she had learned since those very early years how to cope with loss and fill the void. The Jo back then had built a wall to protect herself, as well as further separate herself from those around her. The Jo now had made an opening in the wall, an opening, however, that she sometimes retreated back into. She didn't think he should feel envious of humans, but in light of his experiences, she could understand why he did.

    She frowned when he mentioned telling her a secret, wondering at his behavior. He sounded like he was recounting a funny story, but the mechanic found it more unnerving than funny. He spoke of nightmares, of being back home but being a stranger to his people, then of his father. Now, Jo only had fond memories of her father and mother, but she sometimes saw nightmares of her own where they appeared warped and unlike their real selves. But this was about Zurg, not her, and she heard what he had to say. She'd normally feel indignant about being called a hormonal primate, but... was it really that far from the mark? She was like all humans, in that aspect. She had urges, which she didn't really act on, but she couldn't deny that she had them. And although most of it didn't apply to her personally, it applied to a majority of the human species.

    And here came the turnabout, the source of Zurg's rage and despair. Jo had pretty much figured out by now that this was his real issue, and she didn't know how to comfort him. It was true, he couldn't go home, he couldn't be himself because he'd gone on for so long not being himself. He had lost his sense of identity, his sense of self, who he really was. But he could not regain it because of the memories. Death, then, wasn't as natural. It didn't come with fond memories, it was not something easily accepted. Only now was Jo realizing how the two walked hand-in-hand for Zurg, and for the first time since knowing him she truly felt helpless and at a loss to offer aid or any comfort. However, for him to be even admitting all this meant that he was, if slowly and with much turmoil, accepting it. He was slowly coming to terms with his pain and anguish, after nearly fifty years, and Jo felt so proud of him. It wasn't easy, she knew, but here he was, slowly but surely.

    But here he was suddenly raging and letting it all out -- which was good -- but whoa, chill the negative attitude! Here was where the mechanic would finally put her foot down, but he went to crushingly and desperately sad again in a matter of seconds. The mechanic finally sighed, then found it in her to move again. She knelt beside Zurg's chair and grasped his hands, tenderly and lovingly. She would have to tread carefully now, and say the right things to help him rise above his grief and anger. Best not to linger on it too long, either. This was a delicate situation.

    "First, I want you to relax. Calm down, take a deep breath now." She waited for him to obey before continuing, stroking his knuckles with her thumbs. "I don't think it's bad that you can't control your emotions. I think you really needed to get all that off your chest. Just someone to listen to you and give a damn." Here, she grinned. "Yes, I just said a bad word too. Anyway, I'm not expecting change any time soon, and I'd rather whatever change comes around to happen in your own time. And you don't even have to change if you don't want to. But Big Z..." Here, she tightened her hold on his hands. "I know that you wouldn't ever really kill yourself, but I did feel scared there. I... don't find death entirely natural. I know one day we'll all die because that's how death works, but I'm just opposed to violent deaths on a whole. Murder, suicide, all of those. It's precisely because of the way people die that upsets me. I knows it's because of how my parents died. Something snapped in me that day. But it's also one of the reasons I was so shocked and messed up over Sonia. After everything I believed and held steadfast to, I go and do the one thing I swore I'd never do. I felt so guilty and hurt and betrayed and so mad at myself..." Here, she moistened her lips, looking down at their hands for a moment before looking back up at him. "I just wanted to try to explain myself somehow, so you wouldn't think that I'm afraid of death. I'm not, I've just formed this opinion based on my experiences, and I'm sorry if my reaction made you worry. It's just that I nearly lost you once with G and I don't want to go through it again."

    Wait... she probably sounded like a clingy, desperate sap, didn't she? Better change gears, Jo!

    The mechanic got up and dragged her chair over to sit beside him. She kept close, however, and even laid one of her hands on his arm. "And it's more like... I wish I could do something so you don't always feel this way. I know I can't take away the hurt, I'm no miracle worker! But I think that looking on the brighter side of things might help. A change of perspection, if you will. You tried living on the other side as a Serviceman, and you both looked great and seemed more upbeat too! That's the Big Z we need to see more of!"

    As for not being a part of a whole or belonging anywhere and losing his sense of identity...

    "You know what? I think compared to some other folks around here, you're actually much better off. You might not have a sense of identity, which leads to you not having a sense of place, or self, which basically means you've got nothing and you're a wreck..." She leaned a little closer and hugged his arm, looking up at him with a smile. "But you've got a better head on your shoulders than most, and you've got a lot of friends who love and care about you even if you do have worse moodswings than a pregnant woman!" Hopefully, that would bring a smile to his face.

    And it would be best if she cut things here. She rubbed his arm and patted it a few times before springing up to her feet. "Okay, I think Big Z needs a little pick-me-up! And it shall come in the form of... rice krispies treats!" She growled out the last few words in a deep, guttural voice, drawing out a small blue packet and tossing it into his lap as she sat back down beside him heavily. "Well, don't be shy, open them!"

    Once he did, he would find four square-like snacks, one of which Jo snatched up eagerly and took a bite from, crunching happily. "And you thought I was all about burritos, eh? Don't worry, they're just made out of marshmellows, butter and rice. They're one of my favorite snacks! My parents used to buy them for me all the time. And I will now share them with you." She took another out of the packet and offered it to him. "Don't be shy, try it and tell me what you think! It's not a crime to be a little adventurous. I promise they're better than the pillbugs."

    She waited for him to try one before continuing to nibble on her own. Swinging her feet, she added, "And besides. You're always welcome at my place. It might not be really home, but I kinda hope it'll feel like home to you after a little while. We all want some place to belong. For me, I belong with the people I spend time with. That's my sense of identity. Maybe it can help you find yours too."


    (( This. Took. So. Long. CURSE YOU! ))
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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:30 pm

    Zurg almost didn't feel Jo grow closer to him, and he almost didn't hear her words. He was too busy staring off somewhere with those sunken eyes and wondering how ever he was going to fix this predicament. He had sounded like an ungrateful, angsty... teenager. So many people had it bad and yet, he clung to himself and said it had it the worst. Some truth, but a selfish truth. It wasn't as easy as telling him to grow up and face the music, and he had been "grown up" all his life. There was no childhood, no adolescence. What was worse was that Jo probably thought he was either crazy or just an emotional wreck. He would protest against the first as he was perfectly sane, but as for his emotions? Yes, he would say he's a wreck in that department.

    Told to be always calm, taught to be impartial in everything he did; it was no wonder Zurg had issues with anger and sadness. Even happiness, too. They simply did not act this way, this human way. It was because he had been around outsiders for so long and he identified with them more that Zurg struggled with his nature versus nature. Some psychological issues, yes, but he wasn't crazy. Just... confused. Maybe.

    Oh, these excuses for why he was the way he was. It sickened him. Everyone had choices, everyone. It was just that the conditions influenced the cognition and the cognition influenced the choices. That's all it was, really.

    "Thank you for trying to cheer me up, Jo, but you really don't have to." He told her, now slumped in the chair. Oh, he just wanted to take a nap right now and recharge himself. And before anyone said a word, he did appreciate Jo's efforts in trying to talk him out of it. Her voice, her words, her touch; he appreciated it all. No one else, or very few, would have the patience to console a frustrated tyrant. "I have such hard time looking at the bright side because I was never taught to look at the bright side. There was only the rational side, the side that got things done. Sure, there were bad issues and good issues, but always rational decisions expected. I don't really see the bright side first, and I know that's one of my flaws. I'm cynical and depressing. That's what it takes to be a rational, impartial ruler." Nothing like a human ruler at all.

    Normally he would humour Jo's jokes, as silly as they were, but not this time. This time, he tried to keep his eyes open despite feeling swollen and he glanced down at something within his lap. "Oh? A childhood treat?" He couldn't read the package as he didn't want to take out his glasses but if he knew Jo... "I bet this is full of things you cannot pronounce." He just stared sullenly at the crinkly wrapper before slowly working his heavy fingers to unravel the thing. Eh, he was sort of hungry and maybe eating something will cheer him up. Jo seemed to think so. "What have I got to lose..." Zurg grumbled, peeling the package back with a satisfying crisp. Hm, the smells that came from this thing screamed processed but...

    Despite all the warning bells and whistles within his head, Zurg tried to take a small bite. When he realized the bar was quite solid, he gummed it a bit and tried to soften it with his tongue. At first it tasted strange, very gooey, but after he got over the initial contact? The alien was beginning to enjoy the snack despite how unhappy he looked and Zurg made a content sound from the back of his throat. "You know, this reminds me of movies I've rented from the library." He began, finally starting to bite down into the bar without hindrance. "The humans would always give the alien a snack, thinking that some mysterious treat will magically solve everyone's problem. Well, I guess they're not too far off. I'm slightly pacified with something in my mouth to take the attention away from my mind. Thanks, Jo, but... I think homemade versions would be better." The bar was entirely plopped into his mouth at this point, and Zurg started to suckle on it so it'd be easier to manage.

    "Butter, marshmallows, and rice don't seem too complicated. We should do that one day and dye them with food colouring. That'd be interesting." And if there was one thing Zurg liked to do, it was to cook wonderful masterpieces -- he called his cooking an art.

    When she offered him another he took it without hesitation and the process was repeated. For now, he was relatively calm and we all had Snap, Crackle, and Pop to thank for that. Jo, too. And while it may seemed that he wasn't paying as much attention or showing a lot of effort in his emotions, it was because he was trying to think and cope. It was all he could do at the moment, and he just wanted to sit there and exist.

    It was slightly less painful that way, and we all know Zurg wasn't one for self-pain these days.

    (I made this short so we can manage! CURSE ME, INDEED.)


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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Sep 04, 2011 5:11 pm

    Jo could tell that Zurg needed some time to himself, which was one of the reasons she didn't go for physical comfort like a hug this time around. And because the last time she'd done so, he'd cried harder than ever. Was there a way for her to help comfort him in a way that wouldn't backfire and would help him heal? Even though he said she didn't have to comfort him, she did want to help him somehow. It was a miracle Jo still stuck around for all this, wasn't it? The mechanic was even surprised at herself. But she knew she couldn't just leave Zurg in such a state. She loved him, and to see him in such pain made her insides twist.

    The small-talk helped a bit, but maybe they had to move away from small-talk. It wasn't like Zurg was a machine that was broken and needed fixing, but some sort of healing would do his heart some good. The mechanic swung her feet back and forth, chewing thoughtfully. Come to think of it, she really knew next to nothing about his people. What had life been like for him before? "Yeah, but what you are taught doesn't necessarily mean that's what you believe. What do you believe makes a good ruler?" She licked her fingers clean, then took a second krispies treat. Yum! "And it doesn't have to be a flaw, either."

    And Jo couldn't help but laugh at Zurg's observation. "The ones here, sure! Movies back home usually had Rhizomians do that." Jo still couldn't believe that such a peace-abiding race... could give up members of their own people for experimentation. She shuddered for a moment before pushing it into the back of her mind. It was out of her hands now. But she nodded, happy he was feeling at least slightly better. "We should! It'd be a nice experiment. We should make some purple! Then I could hide them in your clothes and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference!"

    Her giggling soon subsided, and she lapsed into a comfortable silence, leaning against his arm. She thought about some of the things he'd mentioned, like the story, and wondered how long he had tried to fit in only to be shunned and scorned. She didn't want to ask him something so delicate, though. But she did wonder at something. "So, in your story, was it just one species mocking you, or was it more than one?" The Galactic Alliance didn't just have humans, after all. Actually, she didn't remember there being any human representatives in the Alliance, but she knew a lot of space rangers were humans.


    (( Good! I actually got the chance to post back this time! ))
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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:13 pm

    What he thought were good traits in a ruler? Well, that wasn't something he thought upon, but... why not take a stab at it? "You're going to laugh, but all your ideals, Jo. Compassion, understanding, patience, tolerance, peace; the very ideals I laugh at because they are so ridiculously optimistic. Those are the traits I think are the best." A good question, but it wasn't what he wanted to talk about. He had something far more pertinent on his mind.

    "A species?" He laughed weakly, eyes drooping. "It was the entire galaxy. The entire, damn galaxy. And that leads me to yet another confession, for I have sinned. Isn't that how it goes? I read that once in some... theological book about Earth. Anyway." When tired he rambled, but Zurg tried to keep on track. This was very important and also very... well, Jo will see. "I have a secret, Jo. A really powerful secret. I know you can keep it between ourselves, so I will tell you... I haven't told another person in my life. Not Red, not Xenon, no one. Just you today. Please listen." With weakened hands he reached for hers and he turned his chair to face her, head facing downwards.

    She had to know this. She had to understand this. "My people aren't dead. Or weren't, rather. With the Gamma incident they probably are." ...What? This was incredibly hard for Zurg to say, to the point his throat was even drying up. No, he had to say this. He had kept it inside for too long and it had to come out. "When I had the, ah, issue with the Galactic Alliance I had been temporarily removed from power. Nothing major and I eventually did get out, but... when I returned home no one was there. It was an empty world. For every logical explanation, it was absolutely mind-boggling. Now, to understand this better I'm going to tell you something else. My people were not only adept at gravitonic properties, but they were also capable regarding dimensions. How else do you think I was able to use my fiendishly-clever Planet Destroyer?" Oho, remembering the scheme got a brief chuckle out of him and he continued. "When I thought they were dead I was devastated, but a piece of me clung to the hope that they weren't all gone. They couldn't be. Complete genocide is increasingly harder than it seems. So I sent probes. I stole the Unimind to touch the galaxy with my thoughts. I even became obnoxious with my public image since the more notoriety I received, the more publicity. While nothing proved to be fruitful, I said to myself, Zurg, you are thinking too limited." He tapped the side of his head.

    "So, using my wits, I tried to scour possible dimensions. We had a list somewhere. A rather long one, to make it simple for you, and I used our technology. I will admit that I don't know much about the finer details and I'm no Gate Guardian, but I used it. I used that Gate and I searched far and wide, the fabrics of space and time meaning little to me. Do you know what I found after a good string of decades?" Zurg shook his head. "I found them! Naturally, I was overjoyed, but... then the questions came. When I found them, I realized several things: why had they chosen to leave? We don't forsake our world. Why didn't they try to contact me? Surely they were smart enough on a collective whole to make it feasible. And... why did it seem like they rebuilt themselves somewhere else? Didn't know they know that some of us had lingered behind? Not because of choice, but because of condition? It was then that I realized the truth."

    And didn't we all know that sometimes the truth was worse than the lie. "They abandoned us. We, who were left behind to fight a war we could not fight. We could not stand against an injustice when we died one by one without the support of the rest. I realized Jo, that when I found my people that I had wished it was genocide. That I had hoped that their deaths would actually solidify the facts. Instead, when I found them... I realized... well, I realized just how awful we were. I don't even want to think about the clans or races they purged without a Grace to keep the peace. I don't want to imagine the possible civil wars and racism. I don't want to imagine that my people, the people that I had loved, would turn around and abandon me and my faithful guard when we needed them the most. I can't. They're dead to me, victims of genocide."

    There was a moment of silence and Zurg withdrew his hands away, instead clasping them together to look at the ground. "It's funny. I just told you the most coveted secret of my life, and yet... I don't feel better. A part of me wishes I had enough courage to confront them and call them traitors, heretics. But... a piece of me is so hurt that I just want to forget about them entirely. I can't, of course, as I do miss them. Does that... make me weak, confused? Maybe, maybe. Anyway..." The cat out of the bag, the Evil Emperor sat up straighter and looked Jo in the eye for the first time during this entire post. "Congratulations, Jo. You now have solved the mystery. Surprised? I wasn't. We disown the weak. It's our way. Guess we were weak, hm?"

    Ah, but the time was late and Zurg glanced at a nearby timecom. Oh, dear. He had taken too much of Jo's time. "I better go. It's getting late and you need to finish your work, right? Sorry I took up your evening. I'm kind of selfish like that, huh?" He got up without incident and started for the door before turning around. "Thanks for listening, Jo. You don't have to keep silent, but it would mean a great deal for me. I would prefer it if people didn't know. The truth should stay a lie, trust me. Well, see you. Have a good evening."

    And just like that, he was beginning up the stairs and leaving the mechanic to her life. He had already taken too much time in it.

    (FYI, I had this idea before Ratchet & Clank did the same thing. I was just too damn slow!)


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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:05 pm

    The mechanic lowered her gaze, her face getting hot. All her traits? He thought her traits were what made a good ruler? But she'd been lousy when she had his power! She was flattered and embarrassed at the same time. Rubbing the back of her neck, she cleared her throat. "Uh, wow. Thanks Big Z."

    Of course, Jo soon forgot all this in light of Zurg speaking again. Another secret to confess? Cosmos, the guy sure had a lot on his shoulders weighing him down, didn't he? But she listened intently, knowing that he was telling her all this because he trusted her, and she squeezed his hands back gently, trying to give him some of her strength so he could continue to speak. And the moment he uttered those words, that his people weren't dead, Jo thought that everything had stopped for a moment. The world, Zurg's words, everything. What? But... weren't they dead? Wasn't he the last of his kind? Hadn't this always been fact? Confused, and time starting up again for her, Zurg continued to explain.

    The mechanic nodded minutely, not releasing Zurg's hands. She listened to how he searched, how he used the technology available to him to search far and wide, even to search through dimensions until he'd found them, alive and well. But Jo realized the truth before Zurg had to even say it. They had abandoned him, him and the few that had remained. But why? Why would they leave their ruler to such a fate? Hadn't they known? Hadn't they suspected it? Or had there been no time? Or... had it been on purpose? Had they only been looking for an excuse to be rid of Zurg, the Xul, the supposed "half-breed" that they scorned? But why would they leave their own planet for that? Wouldn't it have been easier just to leave him to his own fate? Why leave and rebuild? It didn't make sense...

    And, finally, Jo understood. And a part of her wished she hadn't, for this knowledge was more of a burden than being alone, after all. Knowing that your people were alive and well but didn't want you would devastate anyone, let alone Zurg who had been through so much. So very, very much...

    Zurg withdrew his hands and asked a series of questions, questions he probably didn't know whether he wanted unanswered or solved. But before Jo could say anything else, Zurg had already gotten up to leave, claiming it was late. It wasn't that late, though, and Jo knew it was just an excuse to get away and get some alone time. Normally, she'd give him some space, but right now she knew that she couldn't leave him alone! He needed someone, someone right here, right now, by his side, to prove to him that he was not worthless or weak.

    "Wait, Big Z!" The mechanic ran up the stairs, grabbed the railing, and hoisted herself up and looped her legs over it to jump and land right in front of him and bar his way. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime move, and she was surprised she didn't pull a muscle in the process. Although she was breathing pretty fast. "So your big secret is that you're not alone... Your people are still out there.... But they abandoned you... to just die." Phew, she really did need to catch her breath. She drew in a few gulps of air before she went on, pressing the palms of her hands against his chest.

    "But you survived! Against all the odds you survived, and lived, and fought for what you thought was right! You fought for them, because you loved them, and they were your people. They had no right to abandon you and the others like that!" But she couldn't tell him to forget them, forsake them, even though that was what he ought to do. He had to move on with his life, move past that. They were the ones in the wrong, not him, not when he'd sacrificed everything for them, even his own self!

    "You can't face them, but they sure can't face you either, not after this! And you're not weak! After all this, after everything you've been through, you're still standing. You're right here, in front of me, and the whole world might crash and burn, but I'll stay right here... with you." Her hands rose up from his chest to cup his face, and she traced the outlines of his features. "I'm probably not enough, but if there's one thing I promise, it's that I'll always be by your side."

    Okay, so maybe things suddenly took the mushiest turn they could have, but Jo strongly felt and believed every word she said.


    (( THIS WAS NOT IN YOUR FIC! You knew after reading this I just had to reply. JUST WAIT UNTIL I GET BACK HOME! ))
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    Re: About the Other Day...

    Post by Zurg on Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:34 pm

    Where the night should have ended between them, it didn't. Zurg kept his feet still as Jo made way to effectively block his path and the towering alien remained patiently fastened to the step. So, she understood, did she? If she understood, then, she would realize that this was not something to be cured, to be fixed. This was something that had to be lived with, and lived with it he would have to do. For the rest of the 600+ years remaining in his life. Now do you see how troubled and distraught he was?

    A saddened chuckle escaped Zurg's throat and he shook his head, those glossy eyes still staring into Jo's with an overcoming sense of hopelessness. "I survived in vain, Jo. I survived because I had idealistic hopes and dreams. I survived... because I didn't know any better. Those who were with me died in vain, my promise to end the injustice against their lives broken. Would purging my entire people for their treachery bring the fallen back? Bring my life back? No, of course not. I survived because I didn't know what else to do, not because I, myself, wanted to." And that was the cold, hard reality of the truth. He continued to live because he didn't know what else to do, because he had clung to hope that one day... one day, he would find his home again. But the truth was, as Jo had learned, that he would never find his home again. And now, he had to find a new hope to cling to. A new reason to stick around. The Galactic Alliance was gone, Star Command was gone, it was all gone. There was nothing there anymore.

    While those reading may find Zurg painfully fatalistic or eternally in the House of Blues, he was often times much more realistic and close to the truth than most who shook their heads. He knew society, he ruled society. For 254 years of his life, he knew how it worked no matter the race, the skin colour, the world, the creed -- he knew it. He knew death, he succumbed to death. For 254 years of his life, he knew how it worked no matter the race, the skin colour, the world, the creed -- he knew it. And would this not, then, making someone incredibly world-weary? Wouldn't this make someone tired and beaten, exhausted and stressed, from going out into life and facing the world for what it was?

    The answer was, it would. It would, and at last Zurg blinked as Jo touched him. Oh, how would anyone understand? He was not a person, no matter how hard anyone tried to convince him. Taught to be the ultimate civil serviceman, raised to uphold one's duty and responsibility over one's sense of personality and desires. You just can't ask for someone like Zurg, a tool more than a living thing, to suddenly appreciate a more individualistic thought such as Jo's. And what happened to a tool that lost its sense of purpose and usefulness? It became obsolete, and when it became obsolete... it was often forgotten and stored away. Broken and unused. Self-absorbed, stubborn, inconsiderate; call it what you will, but this was how Zurg was and not a single outsider here was going to win against his hardwired upbringing. It just couldn't be done. It had been too late. The alien was brainwashed, as his people had intended all along.

    But... did that mean he couldn't feel and fight it? Maybe, maybe.

    A hand rose up to rest itself above hers, and Zurg ultimately slid her caress away. "Your words are most kind, Jo, and I do appreciate them. They are some of the most beautiful things I have heard in my life, but please." He let her hand go and he placed one of his own upon her shoulder. "You should go back to work. You are a busy businesswoman and I would hate for you to be penalized for not finishing a product. If you need help with the programming I'll ask Lawrence to come down and see what he can do. The butler has very good intuition and you will be in capable hands."

    Always rational, always the other before the self. The freedom and prison of a Grace. How could human rulers understand? They were selfish, greedy, corpulent with wealth and riches. They didn't understand the ultimate sacrifice one gave to serve one's people. A great honour and a terrible curse. It was his to bear, and his to bear alone. Jo would most likely not understand, and he withdrew his hand from her shoulder. "Now, if you'd be kind. I neglected some work to visit you tonight. I wanted to make sure you were okay, and I hope you feel better. I need to go, however, and finish my duties. I'm a little behind this past week."

    Would she move? Would she remain? It was up to Jo now, the ball in her court. She could choose to let Zurg go on his way and repeat the cycle he was destined to remain forever in, or... she could break it, and finally hammer in some sense. He would always listen to her, always. She had his trust completely, a rare feat for anyone to achieve. His life was, ultimately, in hers now and for once... Zurg felt slightly alive.

    What would she do? He patiently remained quiet and waited for her decision.

    (Dohoho, it was a spoiler as I had not yet written that part yet. It's in the works, though!)


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    Re: About the Other Day...

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