The Unmaking of Govermorne

Arbiter

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As the burning red slag of Govermorne’s lower gears faded from view, the stars and sky thickened into a hazy curtain of grayish black. The airship Highwind glided past the planet’s eternally ticking surface, the cylindrical craft sailing smooth as butter through the upper ‘spheres, heat and cosmic dust passing over its bulky hull in a rippling torrent of flame. Some insignificant debris pinged against the glass windows layered over the cockpit, silhouetted against a dark horizon speckled with the twinkling of distant stars.

The captain of the airship, one Cid Highwind, leaned back in the pilot seat. He stared out through the array of curved windows above his control panel, chin resting in the palm of his hand and a critical glint in his eyes. Taking a puff from his cigarette, Cid sighed on an exhale, sending a spiral of pungent smoke curling around the ship’s bridge.

“Well, Cid?” he asked himself. “Is this really the best you could do?”

Cid set the cigarette down, grinding the burning stub into an ashtray that was close at hand. He was a tall, wiry man with large, long-fingered hands and shaggy hair that, like tufts of shredded wheat, peaked out from under his bulky aviator goggles. His face, wrinkled and slightly nicked in places, seemed to be set into an eternal smolder. Crow’s feet branched out from the corners of his vibrant blue eyes, a bit of stubble mottling his chin like pebbles on the seashore.

He passed a hand over his eyes, rubbing stubborn bits of grit from the corners.

“Aye,” the man remarked to himself, voice rough from lack of sleep. “That’s the fuckin’ ticket. Just gotta… wait around a little while longer. The little folks down there’ll figure it out, do something interesting.”

Gaze sliding from the cylindrical pane of view windows, Cid examined the control panel before him, the pilot seat feeling uncomfortably melded to his ass after days of sitting in it. Blueprints, whole sheathes of yellowed pages scattered across the controls, crinkled under his hands. Plucking up a pen to gnaw on in place of another cig, Cid’s brows furrowed as he examined the diagrams. An orange glow fell through the bridge windows—the super-heated slag of Govermorne, visible even from space, casting his complexion in a halo of amber light.

Cid’s fingers tip-tapped against one of the pages, just another small piece in the marvelous invention coming together in his brain. Yeah. It was gonna be another loooong night of sitting up, working on his designs and trying to stave off his smoking habit. Maybe he’d manage to get an hour or two of shut-eye in, if he was really stumped. But right now, it felt like his mind was practically boiling with ideas, crackling embers of creativity sparking along his synapses. He expected to be working into the wee hours of the morning at this rate—

BOOM!

Suddenly, a powerful blast rocked the ship, the impact hurling Cid forward, his skull slamming against the unforgiving metal console with all the delicacy of a freight train. The man wasn’t struck unconscious, but simply slumped there for a moment, coming to terms with the fact that something so shitty had, in fact, just happened.

Lifting his head with a groan, Cid clambered out of the pilot seat, looking blearily around as his legs clumsily staggered under his weight. His head felt heavy, like it was stuffed full of cotton, and blood dripped wetly into his eyes. Through the haze of gore, red emergency lights flashed, high-pitched sirens screaming in his ears as the sound of something shattering rang out, the sound of a potential hull breach instantly setting him on high alert.

All sluggishness vanished in a moment’s time, adrenaline rocketing through his veins. Cid dashed for the ladder hanging down into the cockpit, scaling it in record time, hands shaking on every rung they gripped and combat boots slipping in his desperation to ascend. It seemed like hours before his head finally peaked over the ledge, and with a mighty heave of his shoulders, Cid was in the machinery room.

The man cast a weary glance around, head on a swivel for possible explosive damage. Nothing seemed amiss, aside from a few supply barrels having been clearly knocked around, a couple crates busted with their contents spilling across the floor.

These random supplies crumpled underfoot as Cid stormed past the mess, the sound of hissing machinery and blaring alarms whirling by in a dizzy blur, his gaze trained straight ahead as he made for the upper deck. As he reached the top of the staircase, though, Cid paused for a moment— extending one hand out to summon a long, thin spear to him.

Blue eyes narrowed to slits, Cid stepped out onto the deck. While ordinarily a ship such as this wouldn’t survive in space, Cid had made a few, frankly, scientifically improbable adjustments using his newfound cosmic abilities, and because of this he was able to quite comfortably exist on an open deck in the middle of outer freakin’ space. It was, unfortunately, still really fuckin’ cold.

An endless tapestry of stars unfurled outward on either side of the Highwind, seeming to ripple gently with every impossible breath his lungs eagerly sucked in. And there, hovering in the distance, was Govermorne, the planet’s massive machinery toiling fruitlessly in the midst of an uncaring galaxy, each gear’s block-shaped teeth illuminated by a vibrant red glow.

What was far more visually arresting than that, though, was the massive ship embedded in the side of Cid’s. Which was incredibly odd, seeing as Cid had not seen such a ship on his radar systems, and certainly hadn’t been hailed by an angry captain demanding a reason for why he wasn’t altering his course. Not to mention that he had made his ship all but intangible to any other spacefarers.

The enemy ship, for Cid did not know how else to call it, was barely discernible from the black of space. Its enormous hull, constructed entirely of a dark red metal and twisted into an array of deadly-looking spikes, had torn through the front of the Highwind like it was naught but paper; the thing absolutely hulked in comparison to Cid’s own ship, seeming at least five times bigger, if not significantly larger. A dangerous hum emanated from the other vessel, the sound resonating deep within his chest, seeming to reach right down to his bones and twist.

It was as he was stepping further out onto the deck, intending to draw closer to inspect the damage and, quite possibly, try his hand at simply kicking the other ship away, that he noticed Him.

Cid’s blood turned to ice. There He stood, hands folded neatly behind his back, seeming perfectly comfortable at the Highwind’s prow. The dreaded God of Apokolips, scourge of far-flung planets, had come for him.

Rock-like skin pulling into a sneer, Darkseid examined the distant clockwork world as darkness slowly crept across it.

“Such a miserably pathetic caricature of a World. Much like its creator… all flash and no substance,” Darkseid mused.

“Did I fucking ask?” Cid spat, all bluster, sweaty grip tightening around the spear in his hands. With delicate steps, the man began to creep forward, the weapon in his hands poised to strike.

The Fallen Arbiter did not immediately answer, merely giving a flick of his hand. Instantly, Cid crumpled to the deck— writhing on the ground in agony, struggling in vain to fight the Equation tearing his mind apart only to rebuild it again.

Soon, all independent thought and emotion would slowly be eaten away, until not but unthinking subservience to Darkseid remained. But in that moment, the reclusive scientist gasped and sobbed as blood streamed from his nose and ears, red staining his gritted teeth; a regrettable side effect of resistance.

Darkseid sighed.

“Your continued existence is a gift, Arbiter. All sentient beings will glory in my control. This world will be bettered through my influence. Do you see?”

Through eyes full of furious tears, Cid looked out at Govermorne, fingers fumbling uselessly for his weapon. What he saw was the fading light of a million lives, the golden souls of his world’s inhabitants seeping into darkness in a slow, molten bleed as their homes were consumed by Darkseid’s corruption. The shadows fell across their twinkling life-lights like a wash of frigid sea, distorting them into twisted, sick facsimiles of their former selves.

He could see it perfectly, like he was just another person standing in the streets, and that made it all the more horrific. This... was the antithesis of genesis, a total opposition of life. “Anti-Life”, the monstrous being towering over him would say, and it was only going to get worse.

Then again... the Arbiter knew there were some who would escape before Govermorne was totally lost, like rats hurling themselves from the prow of a burning ship. Not the old and feeble trying to stumble away, or the unfortunate women, men, and children retreating into cellars and ditches and pits. Some... would be quick enough to reach escape pods, set course for other worlds. But the rest...

Cid flinched as the piercing screech of a parademon cut through the air. Once more he was with his people, standing on Govermorne’s surface, his spirit trying in vain to comprehend their immense terror.

Fragments of darkness drifted around him like ash, the clockwork world, his world, ravaged by hordes of winged parademons swarming across the sky, their hissing and snarling voices culminating in a chorus of callous destruction. His mind felt like it was being savaged, too— shuttering with flashes of memory as the Equation battered him in fierce, punishing waves. He understood that his mind would cease to be his own any minute now, and yet his voice still managed to come out, albeit low and strangled.

“You... won’t get away with this. The others. They’ll stop you!”

The Apokoliptian reached out, one massive, gloved hand engulfing the man’s skull in its merciless grip. Fiery energy leapt out from his eyes in jets of crimson, illuminating his grim smile in a hellish blood red. Darkseid considered, briefly, the merit of ending this distraction there. But it was also rare for him to be able to laud his superiority over such pure agony, and after having been sealed off from the Crossroads for so many millenia, it would be wasteful to let the opportunity pass.

The Unmaker pulled the man closer to his granite face. The dim keening of the omega force sent rippling splashes of red light across Cid’s tearful, helplessly angry expression.

“Your form may have changed, Arbiter, but I know you have not forgotten the old ways. The anadromous thrashing of our mutual captives demands they fight. This is known. They must resist, because it is all they know. In the end, the denizens of this world are nothing but…” Darkseid hummed, throwing Cid’s slowly corrupting form to the deck. “...masochists.”

Cid’s right eye rotted and fell away. A rivulet of black ichor seeped from the vacant socket as a confused stupor befell his features. A croaking protest, likely his last, escaped a syballant second mouth that had opened on the soft, fleshy throat.

“...why?”

“Because it is correct. A closed loop. Alpha, and Omega.” Darkseid thrummed. He plucked the spear out of his new servant’s hands and snapped it in two with a callous sneer. As if such a meager weapon could oppose him.

“Besotted with a desire for pain, the stronger insects of this world will array before us, yes. But. I am not entirely disdainful of you and the others’ creations. In my beneficence, I will grant them their due audience with despair before bringing them to heel. As with all things.”

The being once known as ‘Cid’ rose to its feet, dripping with empty malice. Already, the husk was barely recognizable, its form being Unmade into something that would faithfully and flawlessly serve not just a new master, but a new cause--the Unmaking of this World and those that lie beyond.

There was no more need for conversation, for all that remained was Darkseid.

The God of Death turned to regard the other glimmering points of light hanging in the blackened sky. Soon, they too would know perfection... through pain.

Govermorne is now experiencing 'Total Unmaking' at the hands of Darkseid and its Unmade Avatar, Jenova, please read the stick in the Crossroads Discussion for more details.
 
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