A Tall Tale

Mickey Mouse

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In death, there were flowers… and stars in the sky.

Mickey Mouse had never died before. Well, not really, anyhow; when he’d been swallowed up by a plasma blast five years ago, it’d hurt, but as quick as a blink, his eyes had snapped open and he’d been back in the real world. As his vision slipped from his eyes, though, he had a feeling that this was going to be an entirely different kinda thing; a whole different plane.

Echoes of a sobbing Gilgamesh faded into muffled background noise, fusing with the dull roar of death slowly beginning to creep up his mangled, sometimes melted, limbs. Darkness started to blanket him, tugging at his mind and heart, clawing at them to try and drag them into sorrowful depths. Its conquest failed; no matter how the demons of the Abyss tried mightily to wound him where it mattered, a permanent smile fixed on the little mouse’s face. He may not have hands or feet, but he retained his signature warm grin.

And as his last breath in the living world left his body and his first breath in… well, wherever the heck this was entered, he had hands and feet again. He had fingers that could feel wildflowers and dandelions and zinnias grow like lightning around him. The garden was so thick and full it almost lifted him up off the ground, and as he felt the flora punching up beneath his repaired spine, he instinctively opened his eyes to help him maneuver.

Much to his surprise, he could see. He whipped around, searching for Gilgamesh. The gilded king had vanished, and so, too, had the island itself — the entirety of Dante’s Comet. He blinked furiously to help his newly restored vision adjust to the star-lit scene, gazing at the meadow stretching out for what must’ve been miles all around him.

Hm, he thought, do they have ‘miles’ in Heaven?

For several minutes, he sat in the flower patch, stars twinkling above him in the sky. As his senses and faculties began to fully repair and adjust to his surroundings, he started to idly notice that he wasn’t the only one populating this plane. Children played; old people dozed off against trees; young mothers felt the first moment of peace they’d had in far too long.

Peace, he repeated inside his mind. The word echoed louder than he remembered his thoughts sounding in life, seeming to fill the entirety of the meadow. The other heavenly denizens didn’t seem to be bothered by the noise, and he certainly couldn’t hear them, so perhaps they were… ignorant of it.

And that was truly peace, wasn’t it? To exist in a world ignorant of thoughts and machinations of those around you, where the only concern anyone had the time or space to consider was which game to play in the meadow. Mickey giggled at that — was he… fond of this? Did he like being dead?

He pushed himself up to go join the children playing.

His ears rang with the clinking of Gilgamesh’s golden armor, and he once again spun around trying to find the King of Pals. Had he been wiped out as well?

Yet as his eyes searched the meadow, his new, unlikely friend was nowhere to be found.

Had he done enough to ensure Gilgamesh’s survival? Frieza was gone — the cowboy Deadpool had ensured that — and the King of Heroes still seemed to be alive and well when Mickey slipped from the world. The mouse’s thoughts drifted back to the beginning of their relationship. Facing him down then, could he have ever imagined what the ending of his story with the young man would be? If someone had come up to him and told him the final result — that he’d die, smiling, in his arch-rival’s arms — would have even entertained believing such a tale?

His eyes took in the starry sky. There was no moon, but the stars were bright enough; there seemed to be almost as many of them as there were flowers in the meadow.

Would he have believed it if someone told him death was so beautiful?
 

Jak

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There was no rest for the wicked or was it the rebels? It seemed like it on Karl’s death island. The last moments for a certain eco warrior was written inside a certain dark New Babylon king’s mouth.

Was this Heaven or hell? If this was Heaven, where were the precursors to great him? The ex-dynamite kid woke up with a startle, suddenly not a mess of blood and guts.

Who revived him?

Why did they care so much about him?

From down below, two entities inside the eco warrior’s body grieved their loss as well as Mar did. An unprotected, single ottsel cried over pieces of his friend’s body.

His two entities shared the pain of their host.

The Dark King felt the loss of his pride with his dignity while the Nobel one felt the stinging loss of failing to protect his host.

The Dark king stalked back to his throne, refusing to wear his eco encrusted crown. His pride had been shattered on that island. Light got up, trying to calm the wounded beast but knew both of them suffered.

“We couldn’t protect him, Light. You know as well as I that we should have let Cho be ripped apart by Melgamesh. He was worse than me out there.”

Light crossed his arms, quietly “I know, Dark” as he got pushed back “Let me suffer in peace, I’m sure you are as well.”

The precursors in a hologram stood over Jak feeling broken in pride. “What are you doing, Mar. Get up! We didn’t choose you for nothing!”

Jak sat up, dusting himself off “What do you mean? I lost. What do you want me to do about it?”

The precursors frowned “You saved so many, even Cho from a fate you couldn’t stop.’


Jak sighed “It was a mistake.”

The eco warrior’s armor, dark brown and precursor made was stronger than most armors out there.

The man pushed himself off the ground in Heaven. It was peaceful and relaxing with the many folks around him. Human children and other folks played without a care in the world. Yet, Jak felt responsible for these lives he had to protect. He felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.

He stopped listening to the precursors mutter in his ear when he looked around, noting a certain contestant had died before him.

“Hm?”

Mar looked around and walked toward the black eared mouse. He’d haven’t seen him before but he seemed familiar as the file of Mickey Mouse came up.

For a second, the long eared warrior might have been mistaken as Gilgamesh out there. The unmistakable armor, the blonde hair with green eco markings on the back, green goatee and long ears.

“I may be a prince of the House of Mar, but I’m no Gilgamesh.”

He held a grasp on his red Seal of Mar around his neck.

No more crying, he still had work to do. He still held a grudge against New Babylon and now, Gilgamesh. If Gilgamesh was truly the hero he was, why didn’t he hold back against Mar?”

He had more of a reason to hate the so-called King of Heroes.
 
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Mickey Mouse

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Well, now. Someone could hear his thoughts.

The voice came as if from nowhere, and then suddenly, as if acknowledgement begot existence, a young man with blonde-ish hair and armor not unlike Gilgamesh’s — though noticeably less shiny — stood within Mickey’s sights, declaring definitively that he was not the King of Heroes. So, this was what the clinking sound had been, then?

“So then what’s your name, pal?” the mouse asked, eyeing the eco warrior carefully across a short patch of meadow. “Me llamo Mickey Mouse,” he introduced himself, using one of the phrases Mireya had taught him. The elf ears hadn’t gone without notice, and though Mickey didn’t know if all elvish people spoke the same language, but he figured it would be polite to try his best in the mother tongue, if only as an offer of good faith. The elf man, however, simply scrunched his face into a scowl. The gesture, it seemed, was… under-appreciated.

“Jak,” he replied curtly. “You speak of the monster who killed me.”

Mickey blinked.

“Oh no,” he squeaked, “so… you’re not like the rest of these fellas, then, huh? You’re from the Abyss, too.”

Mickey hadn’t made a habit of perusing the other contestants’ files before being dropped off on the island, but the longer he looked at Jak Mar’s face, the more he recalled the young man. He had half a mind to believe they’d fought together in all three iterations of the death game Mickey had unwittingly participated in, but that was a discussion for later.

Jak Mar didn’t respond to his discovery, but merely looked away. The boy wasn’t tall, but he was taller than Mickey, and so despite his evasion, the mouse could still see the pained expression on his face. He’d been hurt on the island, Mickey could tell. But if he were being truthful, hadn’t they all?

“I’m sorry,” the mouse broke the silence.

The eco warrior turned his face back down to the diminutive hero, whose own expression was now washed with sadness.

He’d watched as Gilgamesh had grown, truly, into the King of Heroes before his eyes — but people can’t be expected to change forever after three short days. He hadn’t seen the gilded monarch’s face at the end, but he feel the pain radiating off him. In spite of himself, and in spite of everything they’d been through, Gilgamesh had felt true, deep sadness over Mickey’s death. And that had driven him back to the Malefactor, the little mouse somehow knew.

“I’m sorry,” Mickey repeated, “I guess I wasn’t done yet.”

A blustery wind gusted past the mouse king’s ears, making his fur stand on end. As if sctivated by some sort of magic words, a bright light exploded from his pocket. The bottle of starlight hopped out of his shorts and fell to the ground between he and Jak Mar.

The elf boy looked quizzically at it, watching as the little mouse knelt down and picked it up. “What… is it?”

Mickey smiled gently. “A wish in a bottle, duh,” he said, his eyes flitting up to meet the boy’s face. He stuck out a gloved hand as the small capsule’s light became overwhelming, almost blinding.

“This isn’t the end of our story, Jakky,” Mickey Mouse grinned.

Jak Mar didn’t speak, but reached for the little hero’s hand. Their fingers brushed each other, but before he could get a firm grip, Mickey Mouse vanished.

Time to go back.
 
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