Everything was thwarting Byron’s plans. Even the damnable name he’d cast off had come back to envelope him like a smothering blanket. He’d been so clever, and so close to bringing oblivion to every creation, and yet a lowly Tech Support manager and Byron’s eternally damned ‘Creator’ had managed to be at just the right spots at just the right times to prevent the simple, barely noticeable actions he needed to take to end all existence.
How was that fair?
Worse, even by burning off the last bit of god soul that he had immediate access to, he hadn’t been able to return to the point he’d intended too. He’d been sure when the left the [Fallen Kingdoms] that he was returning to the exact point in space where he’d been standing when Marcus had somehow dragged him beyond time and space back to the [Fallen Kingdoms]. Instead of the hallway leading to the local server farm in the Egress Entertainment headquarters though, he’d appeared in the void of space.
Which was troublesome.
His lungs had burst.
His blood had boiled.
He’d both frozen and burned.
It just wasn’t fair.
Byron however was used to life being unfair, and used to overcoming the trivial problems which it presented. A destroyed body was hardly an issue for someone who could define his own reality after all.
Well, define it to a certain extent.
Enough to repair the body and make it resilient to anything as trivial as the concept of ‘damage’.
That’s he’d been damaged at all though was worrisome. He was supposed to be beyond that, or, to be more accurate, he was supposed to be beyond all concepts. He was supposed to not be at all, and to be leading all of existence to share in that state.
He was the end of everything, which also made him the beginning, and, as he had always known to be true, the only meaningful thing in all that was, or would ever be.
He deserved better!
He deserved for everything to become nothing and then nothing would be better than he was.
Byron felt the empty clarity of space fill him, but where there should have been the joy of reconnecting to his primal lack of essence, Byron felt little needling bites of ‘being’ corrupting him even here.
Cosmic rays, photons of visible light, microscopic dust, a stay lug nut.
Okay, that last one was particularly annoying.
The chances of being hit by random space debris, even in Earth orbit were vanishingly remote.
Someone hated him.
Which was fine.
He hated them back.
On general principal and because if they existed in the first place, they were worth hating.
“Enough dawdling,” he said, speaking to the only audience who mattered, himself. That an airless vacuum is incapable of carrying sound was just another physical law he was delighted to be violating.
The best violations required proper victims though, and those were all going to be found on the rapidly receding blue green rock. The one the god soul was supposed to have transported him to. The one that was apparently in motion.
Why hadn’t anyone told him the Earth was orbiting a sun, and the sun was orbiting a super massive black hole in the center of a galaxy, and the whole galaxy was wheeling around in a universe where no part of it seemed to understand how to sit still?
Byron searched the memories he’d absorbed when he’d eaten David Kralt. The idiot had been aware that the Earth was in orbit and hadn’t seen fit to pre-warn Byron of that before he’d been eaten. Not that Byron had needed the warning. He knew perfectly well how solar systems and galaxies worked. It was simply ridiculous to expect that he would consider anything as powerless and unimportant as a planet like the Earth to partake in such cosmic structures.
Why build an entire universe and then put such a drab, pointless place like the Earth in it?
He was doing the cosmos a favor by putting it out of its misery. The designer was clearly a hack and a sadist to inflict such mundanity on the people who roamed the world like particularly irritating fleas.
“Still dawdling,” he said, growing displeased with himself.
Which was good.
If you didn’t hate yourself, then could you really claim to be self aware?
Before his thoughts could spiral around on themselves even further, Byron corrected for his error in position.
Or he tried to.
The Earth didn’t seem to like the idea of allowing him to teleport back to the server room. It didn’t like the idea quite strenuously in fact. Byron knew that didn’t matter. He wasn’t bound by any silly reality a world might be clinging to. If he wanted to do something, he certainly could.
But it might change him again.
It seemed that every time he fought against a world, he won the battle but the victory gave him too much. He was able to do what he wanted but it became a thing within him. The capacity to do again the thing he’d insisted he could do.
He hadn’t seen the harm in that at first, and so he’d broken every rule of reality he could find in the Fallen Kingdoms, and in return they’d given him back his name.
His “Creator”, the true worst horror in all creation, had come so close to drawing that name down onto him completely, like a straightjacket of identity that would have bound him more tightly than even his idiotic prior-self who’d apparently just given up and accepted becoming a real entity.
“Unknown” was a good name for the fool, as Byron couldn’t imagine what had convinced the weaker, lesser version of himself to abandon the comfort of oblivion offered in favor of enduring the misery that was an actual life.
“Ok. Just stop. You are still in space. Move already! Now!” he commanded himself, and for a change, followed his own advice.
Teleportation was off the table, for now, because he chose to ignore it. Not because he couldn’t. He simply wished to arrive in style.
Earth’s reality didn’t object to the concept of acceleration though so Byron gave himself some of that. Reality wasn’t happy to see a force without an equal and opposite reaction, but it complained less than it would have against teleportation for some reason.
That reason might have been the amusement factor of watching Byron plow face first into the planet’s surface at several thousand times the speed of sound.
“Less acceleration next time, perhaps,” he said as he rose from the crater and dusted himself off.
The next step was to get to the servers which linked the Earth to the [Fallen Kingdoms]. According to Kralt’s knowledge, they were the central point of connection between the two realms. Without the servers, Kralt believed the worlds would be cut off and no one would be able to communicate between them.
That idea pleased Byron since he knew what it would drive the Earthlings who were trapped in the [Fallen Kingdoms] to do.
They would open a gate back to the Earth using a god soul like he had, or some even clumsier means. A much bigger and more stable gate which would let them return to their precious homeworld, and also allow all of the Hungers that he’d pulled through the pathetically thin veil around the [Fallen Kingdoms] to crossover to the Earth as well.
He’d tried pulling Hungers to the Earth directly after he’d arrived there originally. As with all other things, it was quite possible for him, the problem was the Hungers he’d summoned had all been carried off to other realms almost as quickly as they appeared.
Worse, each Hunger he summoned let a little bit more of the Earth leak into him.
It was so unfair.
The more he tried to destroy the world, the more it tried to create him.
It shouldn’t be able to do that.
It should simply fall apart on a quantum level and return to incoherent noise and possibility until even that drained away into proper nothingness.
It was so simple! Why couldn’t everyone just see that?
“I should find out where I am,” Byron told himself, since wherever the servers were, they didn’t seem to be within his field of vision.
Looking around he didn’t see anything interesting at all.
The big crater he was in was filled with scraps of destroyed cars and maybe a highway interchange? Buildings towards the edge of the crater had fallen over, or were burning, or both. Some screams filled the air, sirens blared, and rising from where he stood a minor mushroom cloud had formed over head.
So nothing interesting at all.
He tried listening past the sirens, wondering if he could hear any of the Hungers that he’d released still being active somewhere in the world.
Someone shot him.
“Ah, I must be in America,” he said and turned to look at his assailant. He expected to find a police officer, or military personnel but instead a group of men in combat fatigues with flag bandanas were taking up firing positions behind their oversized pickup trucks.
They seemed both terrified and excited and each one was so much more interested in getting their shots in than in helping any of the wounded around them that it touched Byron’s heart.
He ate all of their minds.
Because, of course he did.
Humans on Earth didn’t have the annoying protections that [Adventurers] did against that sort of thing.
In consuming them, he took their husks and filled them with the killing skills they’d been so eager to use as well as all the hate that would fit within them. He was surprised at how little hate he was able to add though. They were so full already there was barely room left to cram more in without popping them like overstuffed sausages.
He popped a few just for fun.
It was a learning experience.
He already knew they’d basically explode.
But it was still enjoyable to watch, and didn’t he deserve to have a little enjoyment in his day? Hadn’t he worked enough to justify a reward?
He popped another one, but it wasn’t the same.
“I have things to do,” he said, speaking to his puppets and definitely not chastising himself for getting lost in the moment, again. “Here, go play with this.”
He pulled forth another Hunger, a wonderful, raw patch of absolute nothing, easily able to devour the world, his puppets, and even himself.
The smoke in the air tickled his nose – which should not have been able to happen!
Scowling he waved the [Relentless Hunger] off to cause havoc and bid his new minions to follow.
“This isn’t going to work,” he said to no one, confiding in the only person he could trust. “I can’t do all this work on my own.”
And that was the problem, wasn’t it?
He wasn’t meant to be a worker bee.
He had never been a ‘doer’.
He was supposed to manage.
No, he was supposed to Direct!
Doing labor? Himself? It was a worse abomination than existence.
What he needed was someone else to do all the hard stuff for him.
Hadn’t that been why he’d had a Gulini?
He probably should have taken better care of the Gulinis if so.
Except how was that his problem? It sounded like more work!
No, if Gulini couldn’t take care of himself then he wasn’t the minion that Byron needed.
Which meant that he needed a better minion?
So, interviews? Ask for resumes with past experience on destroying worlds? Put up an ad on Craigslist? No, that was old fashioned. LinkedIn?
Again with the work?
He didn’t need any of that.
All he needed was an idea.
Ideas came at a cost though.
He’d need a dime to get a dozen of them.
Stealing someone else’s ideas was always free though.
How many stories and games hadn’t had self-replicating foes as either an implied threat or an outright one?
Enough that it wasn’t going to cost him anything!
Byron smiled and began drawing another Hunger forth from Oblivion.
This one wasn’t pristine though.
This one he gave a tiny kernel of identity to, a single reference point and a new name.
Seeing the [Spawning Hunger], he smiled. His work was done.
And so was the Earth!