Just Another Wall — Listen

“What is it that you want, I mean... Out of this whole arrangement.”

“Would it be selfish to say ‘my life’? Because that’s the root of it. I’d rather be alive, valued but powerless than dead and reduced to a talisman for some insufferable space cowboy. We never truly die, so to say... It’s just the point where we cease to manipulate the wish magic and instead simply become an insensate vessel for it. So, with the consequence of my bargain, the loss of my command of the wish magic, it’s as if I were dead anyway. Except, by your will, I can still experience life, unconstrained by thirst for power or hunger for strength.”

“That doesn’t sound like so much to ask, until you think about the reason why we met. This changes everything, even if I believe you implicitly. Which I don’t know that I can.”

“Which is why it feels so very selfish all the same. That I should survive while my brethren are slaughtered. That you should shelter me at risk to yourself. So, while I want many things, what I need is fulfillment of the wish that binds me to you. Whether your blade pierces my heart before I finish this sentence or whether you shepherd me until I’ve exhaled my last breath, what I need, what the universe needs, is that you take my life in your hands and do with it whatever you feel is just.”

“You really have a way with words,” you declared, “I’ll admit I’ve not exchanged as many words with another of your kind, so I don’t know if you have an unusually sharp tongue.”

“I’d be happy to demonstrate exactly what this sharp tongue can accomplish, but, alas, we’re all intrinsically like this. I don’t even know the language I’m speaking. I don’t hear your words the way you speak them. Our creation myth speaks of a benevolent sacrifice, one of our kind that gave its power in turn that we should always be understood. So it follows that we are quite conversational, both the blessing and curse of such a well-intentioned wish. I don’t know if that is true, but I like to imagine that it is, that they made the same kind of choice I did, to barter power for something worth much more.”

“How is this worth more than your power?”

“Well I am not powerless. Of my own volition, of course, I have no further communion with the wish magic. I can be a tool for you to seek your own communion with the tapestry of truths, the fabric of reality, the power of gift and consequence. Just like your compatriots would channel their desires through the remnants of one of mine, I too am a conduit for your whims. But I’d argue a much more enjoyable one than a pile of bones stitched to some gauntlets.”

“Remains to be seen. But you didn’t answer the question?”

“Right. Well, that more worthy purpose is to serve you. Which, to me, seems like a grand purpose because if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that you are one of a kind. Your heart is white as snow, like the chittering ball of light in your pocket,” he explained, “Speaking of, that little machine hungers for nothing more than to rend me atom from atom and it could do it before you even had a chance to react. Do you know why it doesn’t?”

“Why is that?” you asked, fidgeting for your other, much smaller companion which beeped dismissively as you clutched it in your palm.

“Because it trusts you beyond reproach. Think about that, a machine birthed by the truest of north stars, a device-made-creature that is powerful beyond even my understanding. And it, despite an unbending mechanical loyalty to a banner that abhors the kind of gray area that my kind thrives in, would rather follow your voice than that of its creator.”

“How do you know-” a third voice began, the mechanism in your palm vibrating angrily.

“The same way you do, little light. Because the same inescapable, impossible-to-explain, absolute truth strikes me about this human that you empower. And you know as well as I do that the choices they make serve a purpose beyond the noblest ambitions of even your god-machine. You made a stellar choice of conscript.”

The interior door hissed as its pneumatic actuators released and it slid open, finally allowing access to the main berth of the ship. Your pocket suddenly felt much lighter as your guiding light teleported to another part of the ship, uncomfortable confronting this reality any further.

“Did you have to spook the little guy like that?”

“I said nothing untrue, and it asked the question!”

“Well, while I have a lot more I’d like to ask on the topic, I believe I’ve run out of time to ask questions.”

“There was an implication, yes. And I am no less… how did you put it, ‘horny lizard,’ than I was when you levied such a crass accusation initially.”

“You talk too much.”

“Shut me up, then.”

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