Leap Through the Rip
Chapter Fourteen: Negative
A short silence entailed. Meta Knight wasn't expecting it—he was expecting Vee to immediately jump to her own defence and refute the statement harshly with her I'm-always-right attitude, and formulate a theory as to why that wasn't possible.
It happened only after several heartbeats. "She's lying," Vee finally said, words sounding more forced than ever. No long explanation, no enraged outburst—just those two words that could not settl e anyone into ease.
Still, Meta Knight chose to parrot her. "You're lying."
Even though he knew that wasn't the case.
If that was the case, then what were those dark green bits he witnessed that time?
Marilyn heaved a sigh, an attempt to hide her anxiety, but her quick succession of actions betrayed everything. She settled on staring outside of her cell and muttered, "If I was lying, that would be real nice." Raising her voice, she continued, "You… Well, you weren't around when this happened, of course… but they announced it. Popon's… death, I mean. Furino was really loud about it. She made sure everyone knew."
"I did," smugly confirmed Furino, as she strut into the corridor of cells. Meta Knight cast only a brief glance at her before looking back at Marilyn—wherever Furino had been was less important than the status of Popon. "That repulsive slime-ball you know is dead. We confirmed it."
Hackles (that Meta Knight didn't even know she had) rising, Marilyn snapped back at the guard, "Shut up!"
"Just because Erphin and the others follow Nightmare's commands to the T doesn't mean I will." Furino tilted her head. "I might chop you up and toss you into that fake garden."
Popon was… dead? Dead? The buzzing in his ears was akin to a multitude of cockroaches scratching around the interior of his brain. Even after all the opportunities—even after everything done during the blackout? Perhaps he had seen Popon's blood, but bloodshed didn't always mean death. So… how exactly… did Popon die? Hadn't all the prisoners tried to save him?
...Had they? On second thought, Meta Knight couldn't really remember the specifics of the "public execution" and everything behind that.
Vee, the mine of answers, was, once again, silent. Unlike the time during the blackout, her presence was definitely there—but wavering and uncertain, like a kid who wasn't sure whether to confess the truth or not. That only made Meta Knight himself even more uncertain—if Vee was acting that way, and her claim that Popon was alive…
Hadn't Vee mostly told him the truth from the moment they met, though..?
"Popon's alive," Meta Knight insisted with a confidence he really didn't have. Both Marilyn's and Furino's eyes were trained on him, dubious and condescending. As if, hey, we already told you that, so why're you still denying it? But he could only think that if the fact that Popon was dead was a lie, and if he could dig out that truth from under the demon beasts' feet, then maybe his words might crack their defence somewhat…
"He's dead," Furino snarled, crossing her paws in irritation. "I know you failures of demon beasts are hopelessly hopeful, but there's no denying that. You don't have any proof that he's alive, do you? And who's the official demon beast who has proper access to the correct information? That would happen to be me. So, quit dreaming. You won't get to see Popon again."
His trust was baseless, he knew, and Furino was entirely correct. He only had proof that testified against his fact, not towards—and that would be the green splatter. Bloodshed did not always lead to death, but in that horrid place, with those set of rules, death was present at every corner.
Hopelessly hopeful? He was anything but that. ...Vee?
"He's alive," Vee immediately coughed out, but her confidence was wavering evidently. "He's definitely alive. I can feel it. And I'm—I'm the psychic, remember?"
Diminishing confidence. Looking away from the other two demon beasts, Meta Knight chose to stare at the wall at the back of his cell instead in order to concentrate on talking to Vee. But you can't prove that, right?
A loud splutter. He winced. Maybe he shouldn't have said that. "Proof? You want proof? How am I supposed to prove it to you when you can't see anything? He's alive!"
If he's alive, then where is he?
A similar situation had happened earlier, and Meta Knight already knew the answer he would be receiving. Vee wouldn't like admitting to it, but… Meta Knight wanted to believe Popon was alive, too, but—
"I can't tell you that. I don't know where he is." An uncharacteristic slight despair was laced in her voice, her words just as disappointing. "You're not a psychic; you wouldn't know! Just because I know he's alive doesn't mean I know where he is. And, as for his location, he's definitely somewhere in this horrid place." She was grabbing desperately for stray straws—that much could be told by her tone. "That's all there is to it! It's just as simple as that."
But it wasn't as simple as that.
"Yes, it is," Vee ground out.
How could it be? Those sticky green bits—not to mention, Furino announcing it herself. She could be lying about it—but what benefit would she be able to gain from doing so? Observe them in their hopeless state? Was she that much of a bored sadist? For some reason, Meta Knight really didn't think she was.
But the one who knew things was Vee, not him. Maybe there was an unknown reason for Furino keeping it a secret and falsely announcing Popon's death. Maybe Popon really was alive. After all, he shouldn't trust the enemy—Nightmare had no qualms in killing any of the prisoners, and Furino worked under him.
"I don't get why you're so worked up over it." When Meta Knight turned around, he saw Furino sliding a stack of sheets onto the chair she usually dozed off on. "You barely knew him. The only thing you two had in common was that you were both prisoners. What's there to be upset or confused over? You should just accept that he's dead." Her lip curled, like she was annoyed by saying it. Did it rattle her?
Meta Knight was unsure of many things at that point—though, with a firm belief, he could say, "Popon is a comrade. I wouldn't leave him behind just because you asked me to."
The demon beast gazed at him like she was surveying undiscovered territory. Then, she threw her head back, chortling, "Ha! You failures really do live up to your name." Lowering her neck, she hissed, "No proper demon beast would've said that."
"It's because I'm not a proper demon beast that I'm here, right?"
Furino drew her head backwards, glaring at him from behind her snout. Vee had long gone quiet, and so had Marilyn. Definitely, definitely uncharacteristic for those two—he would've expected either of them to burst out into argument.
"You know," Furino began, voice even more intensely condescending than usual, "you're actually the most disappointing failure here. All the other stupid demon beasts might've said some stuff that definitely isn't the truth, but while you were being created and designed, your birth was the in topic. Nightmare had high hopes for you. In fact, everybody did. They were already giving you nicknames. The Prince of Demon Beasts, or something horribly wistful."
That was—definitely a first. No, Meta Knight had never heard of that, and from his birth, he was treated like a normal, lowly, dispensable demon beast. Raised like a normal, lowly, dispensable demon beast. His birth method was ordinary—a child of two demon beasts, although he really only knew his mother very well. All great, high and mighty demon beasts were all formed from experiments—artificial birth.
But Furino didn't elaborate on it.
"Then you turned out like this," she sounded like she was seething, "and everybody was oh-so-disappointed. Another failure. It's said you can't control somebody's mindset, no matter what you do, but we were still hoping for something. Another leader, maybe. Someone who isn't Nightmare, someone who isn't tyrannical. Or, maybe someone who didn't treat his demon beasts like pawns on a chessboard—"
Furino suddenly fell silent.
Meta Knight tucked his chin inwards, golden eyes illuminating in the shadows.
The demon beast lowered her neck, then lifted it; she repeated this motion several times before finally snapping her jaws and hissing, spit scattering onto the glossy floor.
"Nothing, you damned fool. I've got no time to waste on you. Not—Not someone who's just another failure and doesn't have any worth or value!" Her words were hurried and almost blended together. "Your stupid comrade Popon is dead. Go on and despair about that!"
Whipping round, Furino stalked straight for the door instead of settling down for guard duty. The resounding slam was the only noise present in those few seconds before quiet murmurs began to rise in the air as they always did, and rightfully did.
Meta Knight slouched against the cold wall. Marilyn was saying something, back to her talkative self, but he tuned her out. He needed some rest, at the very least. No matter what he did, it seemed that his energy would be sapped in just a matter of seconds.
"When you see Popon again, you can tell him Furino the Great lost her cool," Vee guffawed—or an attempt to, anyway.
The air seemed dry. The glass was perfectly clear, but it looked more like it was completely stained over. The hollow surface of his cell made more and more sense to him the more he thought about his previous adventure. Kirby, that loony puffball, rose up to his consciousness for a moment, and he wondered what the star warrior was doing at that moment. And his mother, too. He shut his eyes. The golden dimmed.
25 January 2017
It's been a year—?
Before worrying about readers' decaying interest in the story, the author's dead interest is a bigger concern. I actually hope to finish this this year. After that I won't really have time.