Scene 65 – Impero

IMPERO

HORACE

My name is Horace Warfield. I am a hellion under the command of General Sargeras, specifically a 2nd Lieutenant. I am one of the most respected officers of the 9th Special Reconnaissance Division, well-known for my unconventional tactics and the high moral of the men under my command. I consider it a point of pride that I have never been defeated, despite several dozen pitched battles to my name.

And I had no idea where I was.

“Feeling better?” my father asked.

I looked up and saw…someone. It wasn’t my father. The build wasn’t right…or was it? My head. Something was wrong with my head.

“Good,” the person purred. Its voice was changing. It wasn’t my father’s any more. It was my first girlfriend’s, the one who dumped me when I got my horns. “I want you to have a clear mind for this.”

“What…what are you?”

The shape before me flickered like a shadow. It had a tail, but bigger than anything the toy maker could produce. Then the tail disappeared like smoke. “Well, not a completely clear mind. I want to gloat, but I still have to be somewhat smart. What would happen if you escaped and told everyone who I was? Then I’d have to kill you and everyone you’ve ever met. That would be…” the voice, so much like my old drill instructor’s, paused, as though savoring the thought. Was it licking its lips? “So…terrible.”

“What’s going on?” I tried reaching out to touch the shadow, only to find I couldn’t move. My arms and legs were bound to some sort of examination table, angled to give me a better view of the room. The manacles were…stone?

“It’s been so long since I had a chance to properly gloat,” the voice mused. “So much secrecy. And for what? So a couple more mud-apes can live out their dreary little lives? Pah. Worthless.”

“You’re…” dammit, what was wrong with my head?

A claw gripped my chin and forced me to look into my captor’s glowing red eyes. Except it wasn’t a claw and the eyes weren’t red. Every time I tried to look at the…thing talking to me, my brain seemed to shy away from the subject.

“I am the Composer,” the shadow said in a clear female voice. It was beautiful, like carefully tuned bells. “I am the one who is going to burn this city to the ground.”

It let me go, and I tried to look around the room, in the hopes of actually discerning my location, but I didn’t have much luck. It looked like a small maintenance room for the sewers, judging by the large pipes running throughout the chamber. There were only two entrances I could see, one to my left and one to my right, but I couldn’t see any light coming from either of them. That didn’t help much.

“Stop that,” a voice much like my mother’s ordered, and I felt the manacles twist and tighten. But when I looked down, nothing was touching them. They were just moving on their own. “Don’t bother trying to figure out where you are.”

“You’re a screamer,” I whispered in horror.

The Composer rolled its eyes, and for a brief moment, I saw the face of a beautiful woman with red skin. Was it real? It felt real, but so did the rest. “No, I’m a composer. I have more than just one power. I have three different types of kinesis—stone, fire, and electricity—two types of fragma—shields and blades—a basic sapizo power, one of the better forms of tachytita, two types of detection, a very minor allagi power, and most importantly, hypnotism.”

I blinked. “Was I supposed to understand any of that?”

The shadow clicked its tongue in disappointment. “Actually, yes. You should have stayed in school longer.” Another pause. “Of course, I destroyed most of my schools, so I’m not one to talk.”

“What do you want with me?”

“Two things,” a high-pitched child’s voice explained. “First, I want you to just stay a while and listen. I need to get all this gloating off my chest or else I’ll end up actually telling it to someone important, like the Paladins.

“Second, I need you to disrupt the alliance.”

I frowned. “What alliance?”

The Composer sighed. “Butler finally managed to get his act together, and is forcing a truce between all the cultures and gangs. All to hunt down little old me.” I saw a flash of gleaming white teeth as it grinned, but it disappeared quickly. “I can’t have that. It would be best to just make Butler break the treaty himself, but he’s too well-protected. There’s no way I can get to him.”

A treaty with Necessarius was perfect. It was exactly what the General had been looking for. Yes, we hellions had prejudices of our own, but we would be able to put them aside for the greater good. Hopefully, the other subcultures would feel the same.

But something my captor had said was nagging at my mind. “Wait, how are you going to break the treaty? You’re not a part of it…” I felt a surge of horror. I still had no idea who this person was, but it couldn’t be that bad. “…right?”

The shadow laughed again, the sound of bells returning. “Oh, that would make things far too easy! No, I’m not a part of your silly little games. No, I’m going to make you do it.”

I marshaled my will and tried to sound more confident than I felt. “There’s nothing you can do that will make me betray the General and his cause. If he wants this treaty, I will hold to it.”

The Composer laughed. Bells again. Why was it always bells? “Silly little hellion. Were you even paying attention?” Those gleaming white teeth returned. “Why do you think you can’t identify me? Why do you think you can’t remember how you got here?”

I closed my eyes for a moment, shutting out that confusing, shifting visage, and my wits returned to me. “You drugged me.”

“Not drugged,” it said cheerfully. “Hypnotized. So much more useful. Harder to detect. Harder to defend against.”

“You can’t hypnotize me if I don’t want you to,” I insisted.

It just chuckled. “Not that kind of hypnotism.” It leaned forward and brought its hand in front of my face, moving its fingers in a pattern I couldn’t identify, but was riveting. “Here’s what you’re going to do…”

Right before my mind fled completely, whatever previous hypnotism placed on me wore off, or perhaps was overwritten by the new one. Regardless of the cause, I could suddenly see the Composer in all its glory.

I couldn’t tell if it was male or female, young or old; it was too brief a glimpse for that. I only identified one thing.

Earlier, I had thought the creature had red skin, which would probably mark it as a troll or goblin. But it turned out I was incorrect.

The Composer’s skin wasn’t red.

It was just completely drenched in blood.

Behind the Scenes (scene 65)

In the grand tradition of pseudo-scientific technobabble everywhere, the powers all have proper names in Greek. The Composer dropped a few basic names here.

Kinesis I’m sure everyone knows; it literally means “movement,” and is used to describe the ability to move things with your mind. Stone, fire, and electricity kinesis are referred to as petrakinesis, pyrokinesis, and ilektrikinesis, respectively.

Fragma means approximately “barrier,” and refers to the type of power Derek has.

Sapizo means “rot,” which is actually a bit more specific than how it is used in relation to powers; while rot and sapizo imply only biological decay, it is used to refer to all forms, including things such as rust.

Tachytita means “speed,” and as you may have guessed, simply means super speed. Akane’s power is one form it comes in.

The translation for detection is actually anakalypsi, but the Composer didn’t bother using it. Partly because it doesn’t quite fit with the way the power works, but mostly because “detection” just covers it so much better. This is Laura’s power, specifically the power to detect lies.

Allagi means “change,” and will be translated as “morphing.” This is what the biters had, and should be understood to be different from allasso (literally “shifter”), or “shifting,” which is what the bats had.

And finally, any inconsistencies with Greek grammar shall be henceforth blamed on the fact that the one who originally named the powers was not Greek, he just thought the names sounded cool. (now ask yourselves whether I meant in-universe or out)

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