Change of Heart – Part 3

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

Spoken like a true actor.  He’s just trying to get out of it!

Small dots of sweat lined on Scylla’s brow, as she tried to flip through reasons in her mind why what she was doing was right.  She was no stranger to battle, but this was the first time that she would deliberately harm someone in such a helpless, pitiful condition.

Despite every reason there was to go forth, something about it felt so dirty, so wrong.

“Well… then… if we’re being honest with each other for these last moments.”  

“I know you won’t believe me.” Scylla turned his face so that he had to look at her straight in the eyes. “I must tell you, I had nothing to do with Clio’s death… at least insomuch as to what I am aware of.  We had met not long before her capture… she still was asking about you, even though I told her you were just a worthless piece of thoughtless trash.”

The white mage threw her arms up in exasperation.

“And even when they did capture her, I thought she would receive a slap on the wrist, or even prison time… not death!”

Scylla hobbled over to the console, bowing her head in guilt.

“Amon, just the same, I don’t think you had anything to do with her capture, as much as I want to believe it.  Somehow, I knew that you still loved her.”

Scylla reached over to the panel, running her fingers over the final command button.  She merely had to flip the switch and the irreversible process would begin.

“For being an Archmage, and for you being the Master Technomancer, I get the feeling we were both deceived like a couple of squabbling idiots.”

Scylla’s words dropped like a weight in the pit of his stomach. It took him a moment – a luxury he didn’t really have – to sort through what all the mage had just said. As it sunk in, he felt a befuddled shock course through his system, which must have been accurately reflected in the expression on his face.

Normally, he would never have believed anyone so readily. But something about this rang too true. Why would Scylla be claiming innocence in the final hour, when up until then, she’d done nothing but try to make him feel the misery of his lost situation?

It made no sense. Why not gloat over her part in the plot to bring Clio to her death to make him feel worse? Unless…

“You… did… not…?” Amon struggled to work the words between his lips.

The implications of that were huge. If Scylla really had nothing to do with Clio’s execution… if he had been lied to… and he allowed himself to be manipulated by the lies because of his own blinding emotion…

“Then… I…”

…was used to strike against Scylla…

He had acted on the lies with vicious intent of revenge for something that… maybe… never took place. Everything he’d done was designed to torture to Scylla until she knew depths of the madness he felt… When she maybe really… did… not…

“No…” Amon’s voice rasped as he lifted his hands to cover his face, a motion that spoke utter disgust with the sudden revelation. But mostly disgust with himself.  

Someone had set those wheels in motion long ago. But he had punished the wrong person.

The shock in his face was unexpected, unrehearsed.

She was waiting for the venom to fly… after all, every time she had mentioned the “C” word, it had led an explosive response.  But here he was, looking as if he were a little boy, shocked by what she said. She could see it as he reconciled her statement.

It almost made her want to stop this whole thing and talk it out, just like they did on the boat, before she was Archmage, and he was the Technomancer. When they were companions on an impossible journey.  When they were almost… friends.

Almost.   

Her face hardened in resolve.  Her finger brushed back and forth over the switch, an internal battle going on inside.

“Goodbye, Amon.”

So ends the tragedy of the Allagan Empire.

Just as she looked down at the controls, she saw a node roll across the floor coming from the pile of trash that Amon was fiddling about with.

“Amon!  Really!  Another one of your tricks?”  The white mage growled as she put down the control.

The node stopped, lights shimmering as it struggled to process data.

“Not one of his -shh- tricks… I’m far too -bzzt- clever for that!”

A distorted voice sounded from the node, broken up and tinny as it rolled about.

“Besides, there was -bzzt- only a 21.9% chance that you -shhhh- would press the button given -nuuur- biosignature data and stress markers.”

Amon blinked out of his stupor as he realized his time was drawing to a sharp close. Words failed him as he watched Scylla move towards the console. There was something he desperately needed to say, but his thoughts were all jumbled.

Then, to his surprise, the unresponsive node intercepted.

The Elezen furrowed his brow as the machine, which he had thought was certainly junked, not only moved of its own accord, but also communicated and interacted freely with Scylla.

“Only… 21.9%…?” Amon echoed, lowering his brows and looking across the room at Scylla. “I’m not so sure about that. She seems pretty set to do this.”

“No harm would have come to you -shhh- subject-Amon.” The node rolled back and forth in almost a gleeful manner. “My master -bzzt- locked it out before his apparent -skzzt- termination in fear that it would come to this.”

“What?” Scylla yelled in anger as she randomly slammed her fists on the console, only rewarded with the angry lockout sound.

The energy chains fell away from Amon.

“Freedom restored, subject-Amon.”  The node spun around addressing both Allagans in the room.

“How about -nurrrr- the two subjects calmly resolve this over a -frzzz- sugar-infus-s-s-sed pleasure-drink?”

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