Ratchet and Clank Future: The Homecoming - Chapter 25

Author: KiwiLombax15

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Sargasso. 1700 hours.
Kaos was evil, but she was no fool. Even when she was scheming to take her former stronghold from the Mafia don who had owned it, she had been working on a backup plan, just in case. There were caves under Sargasso, a natural complex of corridors and stone rooms. Now, the army of Kaos worked to make them habitable, setting up computers, installing lights and cleaning out any protesting wild life. Despite their best efforts, however, the caves were damp, and musty, and dark. But they would serve.
Kaos strode down a corridor towards the cave she had selected for herself. Justin scurried behind her, trying to keep up.
"-I'm afraid we lost pretty much all the information stored on the computers, the only weapons we have are those we carried out with us, and only half our fleet made it out in time. We have only ten ships left."
Kaos gave a grunt and a nod. Justin noted she seemed different. She was quiet and distant. Almost…sad. Then, as he watched, her expression changed as suddenly as though someone had flicked a switch, a gloating smile spreading across her face.
"The losses are of little consequence, my cowardly friend." she said, waving a hand dismissively. The weak light shone off a stained bandage on her wrist. Zenithi have nasty bites, and it had bled quite severely. "We merely lost our base. They lost their leader. Hah! After all those years of dreaming and planning, Drake is dead. And dead by my own hand, no less. No, Justin, the loss of the stronghold is of no matter. As far as I am concerned, I won."
They entered her cave. A door had already been built over the entrance, and some crude furniture had been dragged in. In the corner, a full length mirror one of the Blarg had 'acquired' gleamed dully. She had insisted. Kaos was rather vain.
"So, um…What are our orders, Ma'am?" Justin asked nervously as Kaos adjusted the hang of her cloak in the mirror. The distant expression was back.
"Hmm? Oh, um…Just tell them to fix this place up a bit while I think. See if they can find more weapons, too."
"Are you alright, ma'am?"
"Never better. Leave me."
"Are you sure? You seem-"
"I said, LEAVE ME!"
He scurried out quickly. In the gloom of her cave, Kaos hissed and rubbed her temple. She felt…odd. Ever since she had struck Drakes fatal blow, she had been unable to escape the feeling that her head was not her own, that she had unlocked something. There was a faint voice, just on the cusp of hearing, echoing around in her mind. Faint wisps of emotion tugged at her, echoes of feeling. She tried to put a name to the strongest, one she had not felt for aeons. Then she remembered. Grief. Faded memories were stirring, too, ones she had shut away on the day she had come to full strength. She had built walls around them, locked a door in her head behind her, and thrown away the key. Now the door was unlocked and the walls were creaking as the memories struggled for freedom. She fought them. She had more important things to worry about.
With a sigh, she collapsed into her chair. And something rustled. Slowly, almost unwillingly, she brought her hand up to her hair, and pulled out a long, green feather, slightly bent out of shape. She stared at it, hand trembling slightly. It seemed to fill her whole world, almost glowing as the faint light faint light struck it. In the dank mustiness of the cave, the warm, soft smell of Zenithi stood out like a song.
And the walls broke. A flood of memories washed over her, unlocked by the faint scent of one who had raised her, loved her, and been sworn to kill her. She fought them, but to no avail. She remembered her father singing her a lullaby, playing tag with her, teaching her to read, sheltering her as she quaked in terror during a thunderstorm, whispering soothing words as the sky raged overhead. Then, with a sharp pain that made her gasp, the brightest memory resurfaced.
She was five, and watching the fledgling Zenithi practice flight. It had looked like fun, so in her childish innocence she had climbed a tree, clambered onto a branch, waggled her arms…and jumped. The thud and wail had sent Drake scurrying over, and he had gently comforted her as she cried, less out of pain and more out of grief that she was landlocked, would never get to join the others. The next day, he had disappeared all morning, and returned dragging with him a miniature jet pack. She had spent all day in joyful flight, swooping and soaring with her father, their laughter intermingling, the sunshine turning her snow white fur golden.
Kaos could feel it building up, buoyed by the pressure of years being forced into a tiny corner of herself. She fought, but there was no stopping it. Only the sharpest of ears could have caught the tiny sob, carried on the black wings of misery. For the first time in millennia, Kaos wept. For a moment, Kaos and Selene wrestled for control inside her head…and Selene opened her eyes. For a moment there was confusion, as she found herself in control for the first time in years, then memories returned, cold as winters blast. She buried her face in her hands and moaned. What had she done? The invasions, the killing…and Father…
For a moment, she rocked back and forth, thousands of years of suppressed tears forcing their way to the surface. Then she stopped abruptly, head shooting up. The light of hope shone in milky blue eyes, freed from the black taint of Kaos.
"It's not too late! I can stop this!"
She sprang to her feet, ready to bolt out of the cave.
"Where are you going, Selene?"
She ground to a halt as she heard the voice behind her. It had been terrible. If anger, and malice, and jealousy, and blind malignancy had a voice, it was this voice. It was harsh, and cold, and left strange, unpleasant echoes. It creaked and scraped along the eardrum like a rusty saw. It sounded almost rotten, a voice to scar the soul. Her eyes were dragged almost against their will to the full length mirror at the other end of the room.
She cautiously approached it.
"Yes. Come to me."
Stark terror flowed through her, freezing her to her marrow. There was nothing there but her reflection, yet her reflection was <em>wrong</em>. It was her body and her face, but the eyes were the darkness of Kaos, and fangs glittered in an evil smile.
'Why so shocked, Selene?" The reflection leaned casually against the mirror frame. "Why so scared of yourself?"
"Y-you're not me!" she managed, through chattering teeth.
"I beg to differ. Everything you are, I am."
"That's not true! You're a monster!"
"Sticks and stones, Selene…"
"You invaded planets! You killed people!"
"All for the greater good, Selene."
Angry tears streaked down her face.
"You killed my father!"
The reflection looked affronted.
"I? Kill? I never touched him. It was your hand who dealt the fatal blow. You killed him. Besides, he wasn't your real father anyway. Your real father was stupid enough to get himself killed. And your mother was a weakling who couldn't even survive having you."
Selene fell forwards onto her knees in front of the mirror, weeping.
"Please stop…"
"Of course. All you have to do is stop fighting me. Give in to what you are. Embrace it."
"You're an interesting one, Selene. In all my Incarnations, not one has fought me. And why would they? I give them strength, power beyond their wildest dreams. And yet you fight me. You refuse me. Why? We can do great things together. I can give you so much, for only a little price."
"No reward is worth that price! I'd rather have my father! At least he cared! You just want to use me!"
"But he was sworn to kill you. He and his kind are our worst enemies."
"He loved me!"
"He said he did."
"Shut up! You're lying! And what do you know of love anyway? I know what you want! You told me I could have the universe, but you just want to destroy it! You lied to me!"
"So what if I did?" replied the reflection, idly examining its fingernails. "It will be well worth it soon. You see, I do not seek chaos. My name is something of a misnomer. I seek order. The perfect order that comes from changelessness. When the multi-verse is still and empty, there can be no more war, no more death, no more anarchy. It will be perfection. And you will help me achieve that."
"Lies! You're even lying to yourself! You don't even exist! You're a hallucination, nothing more than the product of a tired mind. You've been controlling me for years. Well, no longer! Without me as your puppet, you're just a voice. You can find yourself another slave to do your dirty work, because I'm out of here!"
She turned on her heel, jewellery tinkling as she made to stomp out of the cave.
"I think not."
Selene turned, and screamed in terror. Her reflection was pulling itself out of the mirror, reaching out its arms for her. She staggered and fell, desperately trying to move back.
"Give in to me, Selene. There is no use fighting it. We are destined to be together, till death do us part. Become one with me. We can accomplish so much more. You cannot deny what you are. You. Are. KAOS!"
Selene gave one final, piercing shriek as the reflections hands reached for her. Then there was blackness.

"Ma'am? Ma'am? Are you all right?"
Justin, having knocked cautiously on her door and receiving no reply, had carefully opened it, and been stunned to see his boss unconscious on the floor. He gently shook her, ready to leap back in case she awoke in a killing mood. She twitched, and slowly opened her eyes, shining dark as coal in the light. She gave him a baleful glare and staggered to her feet.
"Are…Are you OK, Ma'am?"
"I assure you, I am fine. Just a little tired, that's all. It's been a very long day, and I must have let things get on top of me." She raised a hand to her head and grimaced.
"What's wrong, Ma'am?"
"What? Oh, that. Don't worry. That's nothing. That'll stop soon…"

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