In the beginning, I was going to call this special "Our Brotherhood". Now, that is the name of the never-written Guva special. I came up with this special not long after I decided to get rid of the Guva special and thought, at first, that it would be wise to use the same story title for both of them. Verlate was a male character at that point, and I had very little of the plot of the story worked out. Shortly after that, I decided to make Verlate a female, as I realized there weren't enough female characters in The Forgotten. Once I did that, the story required a different name. The name itself is a rather famous meme and it didn't take me long to come up with it. I remember being very excited when I came up with it because there's a bit of cheeky humor in it mingled with the seriousness of Verlate's confinement - and of course, all of that is tied to a meme reference. So overall, I was very happy with the name of the story.
I originally wrote this story after Verlate's introduction in the first version of the Fulfillment Saga. Indeed, in that version she was only in one chapter or so - her role was quite diminished. However, I had had the idea for Verlate and her backstory being told in a TF special long before her introduction in the story. I didn't actually get around to writing Forever Alone until July 21, 2011. At that time, every chapter of TF, aside from the very last chapter, was written. I wanted to write that chapter last out of all things in TF, so I decided to quickly write this special before finishing TF. It didn't take me long - I finished the first draft by July 30, 2011, meaning I finished the Forever Alone in ten days. Once that was done, I continued on with the Fulfillment Saga and soon after finished the entire first draft of TF. So Forever Alone was one of the last things completed for the first draft of TF.
The plot of Forever Alone was mostly improvised, though it was somewhat based on the backstory of a Rakatan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I got the mind prison idea from that game, and Verlate's race looks very much like the Rakatans in general, which is my nod to that great game and its influence on my writing. Still, much of the plot, such as what is seen on the Kais' original homeworld and in the courtroom on Krakatan, was completely improvised on the spot. For the most part, this plot remains the same to this day, though some of it has been modified and updated during my final edits and my edits not long after Destructivedisk reviewed this story (to fix some of the cons he found).
I remember being much happier with Forever Alone, upon its completion, than I was when I completed Outbreak: Paved In Blood. As such, this one was never re-written, although it did have plenty of small updates to it in the coming years. I specifically put in fixes to problems that Destructivedisk had with the story in his review of it in the months afterwards. I didn't actually update this story in 2012, like I did with much of the rest of TF, for I didn't think that it had any problems at the time. As such, there are only two real drafts of Forever Alone - the first draft, and the final draft.
I began working on the final draft of this story the day after I completed the final edits of the Reunion Saga, on October 27, 2013. I finished with my final edits on October 31, though occasional minor edits continued in the years to come. I didn't do a tremendous amount of editing during the final edits of this story, which I find quite odd now that I think back on it, since both sagas on either side of it required massive editing during that process. The second chapter had the most changes during the final edits process, but even then, I didn't change the overall plot or anything like that. It was mostly just re-wording sentences and dialogue and whatnot.
The above picture is the tagline for this special. This was one of the first taglines I came up with for the 8 TF sagas and specials, and it may have been the very first, but I don't remember and have no way to confirm that. Anyways, this was a very easy tagline for me to come up with. It's a twist on the phrase "a mind is a terrible thing to waste". The phrase speaks about the horrible torment Verlate is put through by being put in the mind prison. Her mind - what has made her who she is - is the ultimate betrayer in this regard, for had she not been sentient, she would not have been contained in that prison. It was her mind that got her to where she was, and the punishment she was given for indirectly causing the Kais to nearly die off was directly tied to her mind. A big theme in this story, as will soon become apparent, is this idea that being intelligent and being in a position of power is perhaps more of a burden than being stupid and barely sentient. At least stupid people are happy. As well, Verlate persists - she is forgotten, but lives on as a shadow of herself and her species, and it's all because of the mind prison. The themes of TF and this special are all tied to that fact.
The poem at the top of the story section was added to the story very late - indeed, it was the last part of the final edits I did on this story. I added it on October 31, 2013. On November 1, 2013, I re-arranged the lines of the poem so that it would be 8 lines long instead of six (this kept the pattern of the lengths of all of the TF sagas and specials poems going). The poem itself just brings attention to the fact that much of this story was influenced by KOTOR, and it certainly would not have been written had I never played that game. Indeed, I'm not sure how I would have resolved the TB/Ledas conflict without the mind prison, so TF would be a whole lot different had I never played KOTOR long before joining this site.
I have to think
that were it not for having
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
bundled with my first Xbox,
I would have never
written this special.
would have been a shame.
“There will be order in my court. I will clear this room!” boomed out a voice, dry and echoing through the halls.
At once, the commotion that had befallen the session ceased. The figure of the judge stood firmly as he waited for his response. When none came, he pressured once again.
“Legate, I have listened to every accusation. Compelling though they may be, it is the duty of this court hear you through. Speak your defense.”
The judge moved to the Legate with several swift steps. In this court, there were no chairs or benches or even a table to place papers upon. Every member stood, and would stand to face their charges. Red and purple encompassed those of the delegate, and pure white was laden over the defendant.
The Legate kept its head bowed until the judge came to it. Then, it raised its head, showing a myriad of scars and bruises. None were yet healed, and many remained open.
“I… am no longer the Legate, your honor. Such a title befits me no more,” it whispered.
“You deflect my counsel?”
“It makes no difference what I say.”
“Confinement for eternity. You, of all our rational delegates should know this is no matter that can be undone. Verlate,” he whispered, “why are you so stubborn that you would rather give up your life than explain your actions?”
The defendant bowed its head once again. “They will have my head, either way.”
ONE DAY PRIOR
When there was no more war or famine, nor any type of political instability, the Kai race – a generally peaceful and quiet species, made up of innate wisdom more so than the practiced art of ability – was at last visited by the Legate. The Kais had been labeled hyper-sentient, the highest rank on the tier of transcendent intelligence. The visit was to gain knowledge and to better understand the isolation factor taking place on this planet. More importantly, it was to question if this race was, at all, equal to the Legate’s own. At least, it was the Legate’s intention to find that out.
The Legate stepped off her ship. Pressing her boots into the soft mud below, she scanned over her surroundings. Great trees and hilly knolls were scattered around the being’s field of view. The quiet ambiance was humble, raw, untamed; as if sophistication of any means was something deliberately avoided in these realms. The creature had been here for three days, and not even once during this time had any of the Kais known about, nor approached her area of refuge. They were not acutely aware.
The Legate wrapped up her long draping robes around her body. A lazy breeze blew through as she did. For a moment, it made her pause. The serenity of the place was gripping, almost in way that made her envious. This would certainly be a good place to relax and think. But she could admire this later (perhaps to sample for a seed world, too). That was not her job. For now, first contact was to be made – that was all to be made. After that, her job would be done.
The creature took the skies with great speed. It rushed over the trees and the holes and hills. The forest turned to plains land, then to rock and mountain and swamp and bog. A plethora of temperate ranges decorated the planet like icing on a cake. There was enough diversity here to spend a lifetime of admiring. It was all so… perfect.
Finally, the emissary reached the sea. As she had felt on the ride over, there were many beings scattered across the dunes, making their living in the face of the emerald ocean. The Legate landed, then began walking forward in the sands.
Up ahead in the distance, she saw a shimmering light. It was the Kai’s city. The place she needed to go. The alien kept her head low and moved in an awkward crawl through the dune hills up to the city. The Legate was over 7 feet tall, and appeared even more imposing covered in its dark robes. Such an approach was awkward at best. At worst, it was a pitiable attempt at stealth; no less noticeable than if the Legate would have flown right into the town center and begun her speech there. Nevertheless, she was not aware of her own folly. Her confidence in her ability was enough to keep this plan going. She crawled up, over the last dune with relative ease. In front of her were the outskirts of the town; the point at which the finely crafted marble towers gave way to endless sands; where the via munita leveled off into via terrena. Most importantly, though, the city life stayed in the city. There were only a few Kais milling about the edge the city. It would be much easier to make a move here. There would be fewer witnesses, if any.
If she had been noticed, she had not noticed.
The nape of the Legate’s neck was now soaked with sweat. Wearing a heavy robe out in this heat was perhaps madness, but it was necessity. It was a bit of consistency in all of the Legate’s trips. The image of this emissary was the most important imparting gift to give. If she dared mix things up, there would be no way to tell if any mission was official. No, she had to keep things the same.
The first day she had been here, the Legate had come to this very place. It had been night then, when not even one Kai could be seen walking the streets. She had toyed with the idea of breaking into an important-looking house – but that was quickly dismissed. It was unbefitting for a peaceful delegate to make such a rude and obnoxious move. Especially with time being no issue. There was no point in rushing into this.
Her second day had been different. The Legate, instead, had decided to come during the day. This had been when the populace was active. She had sat upon one of the huge towers (of which their purposes still eluded her) and had looked down on it all. One could say they were like ants, the Kais. They moved around in a fervor. Always this place to the next. Never did they stop for anything unnecessary. If they did, it was only for the betterment of their society: to pick up a spare piece of trash, or to notice and fix a degrading piece of brick. Yes, they were like ants. Surely, if the Legate had known what an ant was, she would have appreciated this superb simile.
The Kais being hyper-sentient (the only trait the Legate could see she shared with these creatures) had come off as a disappointment. Nowhere had there been any showcase of smarts. Indeed, the whole area, while beautifully constructed, had appeared primitive. Technology was sparse and unattractive. None of it was worth noting. It was all so regular. Why then, had this label been applied? Could she have been wrong to come here? Were these Kais just really a bunch of regular sentients?
And that was why she was here today. She needed to talk to one of them. One and only one. She needed to study it, gain insight to its way of thinking. See if it had wit or intuition. Awareness was already ruled out, but there was more to test. Maybe then, it would all become clear.
The Legate was good with faces. It was an acquired skill, picked up by countless years of studying countless species throughout the known universe. Before her was the Kai she had watched both days before. It was the Kai she had seen emerge, with regal posture, from that fancy-looking house she had almost broken into; the Kai she had noticed delegating orders to other Kais yesterday. The same Kai that had been pegged with a tracking chip – a device to let her know where this being was at all times.
The aforementioned pegging had been done by none other than the Legate herself. Well, that is not entirely true. Actually it’s not true in the slightest. In reality, she had used a small synthenoid, not unlike the highly prized and respected Mr. Zurkon, for this monumental task. This was, naturally, a much smaller model, which allowed it the easiest of access to any creature needed for the Legate’s reminding. Now, I know what you are all thinking: Zurkon is a dreadfully deadly device. Surely it would have killed the Kai instead of planting a locating chip in its brain! Now, that would be good and true, except for one small caveat. The Legate was a somewhat clever being (of which no mention has been previously made), and thus she had re-purposed her Zurkon into a scout-flyer to do her own bidding. In this case, her robot friend had planted a chip in the Kai's skin for her, and he had been a good robot for doing so. The Legate had thought at the time he was a wonderful addition to her crew (comprised of only herself). That was, until he was making his return trip back to the base, at supersonic speeds, and got all confused and crashed into a tree. Stupid tree. At the very least, the Kai was now in the Legate’s sights, and there was a perfectly good explanation for it.
She had tracked it here. Fortuitous it was, that he was out here in the open today. Surely, he patrolled the entire city, but being out here now, right when the Legate had arrived was a chance that could not be missed. And then, with even more luck, it happened. The others left. The Kai, purple-skinned, grey-haired, and erect as any well-respected biped, was left alone. Working on a broken piece of stone from a wall of aqueducts, he did not see the Legate until the Legate was right over him.
At first, the Kai became ridged. Its shoulders were drawn back and its face stared piercingly at this intruder. It was distrust, the Legate noted, but rational restraint accompanied it. The Kai did not yell or attack or do anything else that would be a bother. It just stared.
The differences in physiology were enough to justify this standoff. The Legate stood taller than the other did – a good two feet taller. Its eyes jutted out to the side, where a normal Kai’s ears would be, leaving the entirety of the face blank, save for a small nose and mouth near the chin. The Legate was hairless and dully-colored – a great difference from the long-haired, pointy-eared humanoid creatures who were the Kais.
There was a moment of pause where both creatures did not make a move. It was customary for the host species to initiate conversation. The Legate had hoped it would. Nonetheless, after moments of silence, she decided she would not assume anything.
The Legate lowered her robes and cast them aside into the dust. This revealed her full form before the Kai. It was a showcase. Upon doing so, the creature raised its hand, and then spoke.
“I am Legate, the protector of this world. I am your–”
“Stop!” the Kai cried out. He spoke slowly and carefully, as if every word, while chosen carefully, was only thought of mere milliseconds before utterance. “You are false. A god, if there was one, would not come to us in this way! You are ill-advised to have tried this. Leave now and your wicked thoughts will be forgotten.”
“If one of you does not want a god, a god will not be had,” said the Legate.
“You are not Amoon, the Great One in the sky. He will not return until we return to nothingness. And we are still here. So, what are you and why have you taken your place among my own? What made you think you were welcome?” the Kai shot back.
“I am Legate. A wanderer… an emissary. I am not here to harm you. I am not here to change you. Quite the opposite, actually.”
The Kai furrowed its brow, wrinkling its face in an avalanche of purple skin and white hair. It nodded and raised its hands, causing the sand around the two to spring up in a very tamed maneuver. At once, a group of smaller beings leapt up. In a blink, they had fully surrounded the Legate in three rows of half circles.
Most of them were barehanded, though several carried stones or pieces of wood. It was clear as day to the Legate that this was a mob of dangerous intent. They looked like the Kai did, but were smaller and hunched over. As one, they rocked back and forth, salivating and gnawing their arms and hands. Their eyes remained trained on the robed figure, however. They were trained to wait.
“We do not believe you,” said the Kai in a breath of desert wind.
“How many of your race are there?” the Legate questioned. It spoke in a manner to tread lightly over this firebrand. Any misstep would erase any chance of trust the Legate could hope to gain. Still, the impatience of the smaller imps began to expand as their cackles and movement grew.
“As you see before you, Legate, we Kais are many.”
“Kai,” the Legate whispered. “You are Kai. Those in the city are Kai. But these,” she motioned to the groveling figures around her, “are just your pets.”
The Kai stopped his advance. This bit of news dug deep into him and he stepped back, eyes ablaze with fury.
“H-how do you know that?! You watched us? Or are you tricking me?” said the Kai, his voice trembling.
“Kai, there is much to be shown. Enlightenment to be gained. Order away your dogs, and I will show you things you would believe unimaginable.”
The Kai frowned again. He hunched his shoulder. Though he did not speak, his eyes showed his obvious distrust.
The Kai’s lethargy was no match for his guard dogs’ impatience. Daringly disobedient, a few of them broke ranks and charged headlong at the Legate. It must have been quite a long time since they had a chance like this.
At once, a huge pillar of blue burst up from the ground. It was so bright, so overcoming that even the Legate – though she made it herself – blinked her watering eyes away from the glare. The beam of energy pulsed upward to the sky until, rather abruptly, it exploded.
The Kai jumped back, in reflex, but his imps had not quick enough reactions. The light and heat enveloped them, incinerating every bit of flesh on contact. Screams and listless howls sprung up, but only for a moment. And then they were gone.
The Kai stood with the Legate. The two of them, it was, in the glassed sands of the lowest dune. In the proximity, the mossy waters of the ocean still churned peacefully. Further on, the rest of the Kais were just beginning to react to the sight and sound of the energy plume that had been summoned just moments before.
“Emissary, that was you who killed mine…” said the Kai, now muted and wide-eyed. “What are you?”
“I am inconsequential to our discussion. Merely, I am a host and a caretaker of knowledge. The knowledge itself is what needs to speak.”
“No… no. You are not a god, but you are my superior. You commanded the ground to come up and destroy my guards. Show me how, so that I may do that!” the Kai pleaded.
“Already, there has been one mistake today. There mustn’t be another,” the emissary said, turning away from the other. Then she took to the skies. “We will talk again tomorrow.”
The Legate attempted to burst off. But something was holding her back. Something preventing her from leaving just yet.
It was the Kai. His arm had flung out at the last second to grab onto her leg. Seeing his success, the native reeled her back to the ground. Then, he jumped on top of her.
This was no good. No good at all. This humiliation was uncalled for. In addition, it was most intolerable. A grand humiliation to the Legate, if you would. So even with the Kai still wrapped around her body, the Legate used all of her energy and pushed up and off to the ground. Maddeningly, she flew, this way and that, trying to shake her quarry off. But it was to no avail. She saw the alien’s long arms and fingers. The intricateness of them, wrapped around her. Those would not be shaken off so easily.
It was not long before she and the Kai reached the ocean, in their struggle. Hovering mere inches over the waves below, the emissary placed both arms upon the Kai’s chest, stopping him. She attempted to push off, but it was no use. Her back cracked and she fell limp in pain.
The Kai’s eyes came to a squint. He took his arms, unlocking them from the alien’s chest, until he was free to work his idea. He weaved his hands back and forth over his body for several seconds until a trace of yellow sparks began emitting from his fingers. At this, the Kai grasped onto the Legate’s shoulders and held tightly. Another great light overtook them both, followed shortly by a huge sonic boom. The blasts burst the waters aside, reeling a mini-tsunami back to the town.
But the Kai did not see this nor care about this. For now, he was chiefly aware of his own power. His hands flowed with the same energy the Legate’s did; and it dripped from him as if it were water – even as he knew it was not. He held his hand out, attempting to focus this power. Punching his hand forward, the Kai tested out a small ki blast – and it worked. The yellow ball of energy shot out from his hand and skidded down the waters, out to sea.
The Kai turned to the other, speaking in a rasp, “Legate, I can feel your powers within me…”
The Legate stared back at him, “What have you done?! I cannot let you stay with this power! This may not go any further!”
“No! We’re not playing that game just yet. Legate, tell me your name. I want to know who you are.”
“I am Verlate, the Grand Legate, Emissary of the Superior Daman, Protector of the Northern Quadrant, and I request you lay down your power and return it to me at once.”
With a sudden jerk, the Kai lunged forward. He kicked Verlate square in the chin, shattering the bones and teeth that had once been housed within. The emissary, caught off guard, fumbled her balance and ultimately fell. Blood poured out her cracked skin as much as it flowed back into her throat. Choking on it, Verlate was barely able to let out a whimper before she crashed into the waters below. Not more than a second later, she had sunk out of sight.
Above her, the Kai turned his attention back to himself. He tested out energy blasts, convulsing his body and then shooting them out of his hand. Like before, they were successful, but unrefined. Many skidded and burned, immediately detonating from being fired. One or two even blew up in his hands.
But then it happened. He tried a large attack – something he was not ready to use, nor properly trained to handle. He gathered his energy all into one giant ball. Granted, this was unnecessary, and seemingly illogical. But to a Kai, knowledge and intuition go hand in hand. This Kai’s intuition had granted him his power. And now he could not even so much as think of anything else until he knew the full scope of his power. With a chorus of grunts and elaborate hand movements, the Kai took it into his palm… the great ball of fire. And then it detonated.
The shock wave hit Verlate as she continued to sink, sending her spiraling down under even faster. Her vision went dark and her mind went blank.
At that moment, Verlate thought no more.
- This chapter's name refers to how order for the Kais, Verlate, and to a lesser extent, the Damani species, is in flux.
- There weren't many changes from the first to final version of this chapter. There were quite a few minor dialogue and sentence re-wordings and several short lines added. The two major additions to this chapter were: the paragraph I added involving Mr. Zurkon (more on that below), which was added in 2011, so that wasn't done during the final edits; and the reference to Amoon by the Kai, which was done during the final edits, which was after Amoon's introduction and after I wrote the first draft of this chapter, and since he's Hyper Zergling's character, I thought it appropriate (and understandable) to reference our shared universe. Overall, not much was changed during the final edits of this chapter. Certainly, the main plot was not.
- “There will be order in my court. I will clear this room!” - this is a reference to the judge from the final episode of Seinfeld. I made such a reference here because around the time I was writing this chapter, I had just completed my fourth or fifth re-watch of the entire series and the final episode was fresh in my mind.
- Indeed, the opening scene was greatly inspired by that final Seinfeld episode, for that episode got me in the mood for some courtroom action.
- Notice how Verlate is covered in pure white. That says something about Damani culture and also has symbolic meaning for the story.
- I don't mention Verlate's gender in the opening scene (and, indeed, for a short while after that) because I wanted the in medias res opening to introduce a lot of questions to leave the readers unsure of things and desirous to learn more (in essence, I wanted them to feel like reading on). By not even explaining much about Verlate at this point, that hopefully gets the readers curious. Also note how Verlate isn't described at all in this opening scene aside from her scars. We don't know what she looks like or even what gender she is yet. All we know is that she is covered in scars. These scars are her identity at this early (and late) point.
- Verlate being a Legate was influenced by The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor - a Halo universe story that features a character of the Legate rank.
- So my idea for the Daman being this ancient race that pre-dated the Kais was something I came up early in the process of writing this story. Indeed, when I came up with Verlate, I got the idea that she could come from an ancient species much like the Forerunners from the Halo universe. As I worked on this more and more, I decided that her species should come before the Kais. This meant, if we are continuing to use the comparison of the Halo universe, that the Daman would be more like the Precursors than the Forerunners. I was still coming up with this stuff as I wrote the page for the Daman. I knew from an early point, though, that they would not be immortal beings. This was inspired by the fact that the Kais aren't immortal either. They are considered gods, but they aren't really god-like in any sense of the word. They are mortal, not very powerful, and don't have particularly useful or defined supernatural powers (beyond what others could reasonably have in the DB universe). So the Daman were therefore going to be another mortal race. I wanted them to be the antithesis of the Kais - they are at the technological apex of mortal society. As well, they aren't monk-like, like the Kais seen in the DB universe. By that I mean, the Kais are generally peace-loving meditative people. The Daman are more assertive and willful. There's arrogance in the Daman and their rule and a sort of specist view of the universe. They see themselves as superior to all other beings - at least, this idea is a part of their cultural heritage. So they are quite different from the Kais. However, they are not portrayed as evil beings. Verlate, for instance, is shown caring for and documenting the Kais in this first chapter, and the Daman aren't actively going out and wiping out who they consider to be lesser races. Their arrogance and emotionlessness should give one pause though. The Daman as a species are grey - they are not good nor evil. Good vs. evil is a major theme in my stories, though mainly from the perspective of that being a relativist dichotomy. The Daman were deliberately written to give a sense of unease to the readers, to make them question if the Daman are good or evil - if they should be rooted for or against. And of course, Amoon is slowly wiping out the Daman because he doesn't like them and their power, so he's bringing disease and sterility to them. That is why their population is declining by the time of this story. This fact is only lightly hinted at here; it is stated overtly in KidVegeta's Theogony: From Silence to the Greater Kais. As to why I spoke more about this in the theogony, it was just a more relevant fact there. The fact that the Daman are dying out is thematically important. The reason they are was just needlessly complicated. Amoon isn't a character in TF, so mentioning him as being this unseen antagonist who is destroying the mortal gods of the universe felt unneeded. Thematically-speaking, the idea that the mortal gods of the universe are dying out is striking - they have transcended their mortality for the most part, since they can essentially live forever if they don't die in battle or from disease. But they are dying off. This shows how the Daman aren't so powerful. And the fact that I don't say it's Amoon doing so here heightens the mystery of their departure, enriching its thematic value. Nothing is certain in the universe, and everything is forgotten eventually. The Daman being forgotten is heavily tied to the forgotten theme in this story. And this idea of an ancient, highly advanced species slowly dying off and being forgotten by the universe they claimed to be gods of was done for deliberate aesthetic and thematic reasons.
- When I wrote this first scene, I had very little of the rest of the story figured out (I knew Verlate would end up in a mind prison and eventually meet Korin, but that was all I knew at that point). In fact, I believe I wrote the opening scene and then took a break of maybe a few days - I can't remember exactly, but I think it was at least a few days - before coming up with and writing out of the rest of the plot for this chapter. In a way, the opening scene was an exercise for myself to try to figure out where to go with this story. This is often the case with my writing, as I usually have ideas pop in my head and then run with them. I don't meticulously plan out the plot of stories before writing them, for the most part (even mapping out plots in broad strokes is rare).
- The opening line of the second scene starts a pattern that continues on through the next two chapters in regards to their opening sentences. I didn't write the opening scene to the second chapter knowing I was going to ultimately do that - I just continued the pattern in the next two chapters because I liked how the second scene of this chapter started off. This pattern shows the disconnect between the main story and the flash-forward scene that starts this chapter.
- Notice how quickly Verlate's gender is revealed in the second section. That is revealed even before her name (even though her name has been stated in the first section). She was defined by her rank first in the previous section, and that persists to this one, although her gender becomes an aspect of her identity before her name does.
- The contrast between the Kais' rugged, non-technological, serene homeworld is a contrast from the Damani homeworld, even if we don't know much about the Daman at this point. Verlate making the contrast herself implies that the Daman are basically the opposites of the Kais, which is interesting considering these two species are the first two god overlords of the universe.
- "Up ahead in the distance, she saw a shimmering light" - this line is a reference to Hotel California by the Eagles.
- While Verlate is a Legate, her robes are quite dark. This contrasts her appearance in the courtroom.
- Early in the second section of this chapter, Verlate noted that the Kais don't have much awareness (for no one had noticed her on the planet for more than three days). But look at her now. Her stealth maneuver to enter the city is quite silly and shows her lack of awareness as well. The Kais are not much different than the Daman, though Verlate's deep-seeded arrogance and specist tendencies do not allow her to realize this.
- "In front of her were the outskirts of the town; the point at which the finely crafted marble towers gave way to endless sands; where the via munita leveled off into via terrena." - I really like this sentence. In some ways, it's an indication of how my writing was developing at this point in time, and at the same time, it shows a certain type of writing that I don't employ much anymore (mentionin via munita and via terrena).
- "If she had been noticed, she had not noticed." - a hallmark trait of my writing style is stuff like this.
- Verlate being forced to wear her heavy robes to make every appearance of herself on all of the planets she visits consistent is a rather silly thing. I drew attention to this to mock how artificial so many rituals and aspects of culture are.
- The entire paragraph featuring Mr. Zurkon was added in after I wrote the first draft of this story. It was put in specifically to fix a con someone (either Destructivedisk or Hyper Zergling, but I don't remember which one) had with the story.
- Mr. Zurkon is a weapon in the Ratchet & Clank universe, which is one of my favorite universes. I referenced it because I love that universe and because Destructivedisk does as well, and I figured he was one of my primary readers back in 2011.
- Another thing that differentiates this story from my writing nowadays was that here I interjected myself as the narrative in several places. I don't really do that at all anymore, though I did this quite a bit in a lot of my old stories (particularly those from 2010 and 2011).
- "That was, until he was making his return trip back to the base, at supersonic speeds, and got all confused and crashed into a tree. Stupid tree." - this is a reference to Sonic SATAM, which had a scene where Tails ran into a tree as he was flying and said "Stupid tree!". That scene was as random as it was funny, so I decided to mention it here.
- The first physical description of of Verlate comes roughly halfway through this chapter, and I did that to build up a relationship between the readers and Verlate before revealing what she looks like. Since she's so alien, her appearance may be off-putting if revealed very early in the story. Also, this is a bit of a reveal in and of itself, a big moment where it becomes clear that Verlate is unlike anything else ever seen in this universe. This immediately brings up the forgotten theme and the idea that, at one time, such a powerful, well-known species ruled the universe, but nowadays, in DBZ times, there is basically no sign of their empire or ruling ways. Even the most powerful amongst us can be forgotten.
- "Leave now and your wicked thoughts will be forgotten" - this sentence works on many levels as it relates to Verlate, the Daman as a whole, and the themes of this story. It also foreshadows Verlate's death in the Fulfillment Saga.
- The reference to Amoon is mostly an easter egg, but it's a cool one, because Amoon is the one who created the Kais to supplant the Daman. Of course neither the Daman nor the Kais know this, but it's still a true fact. Also, Amoon's role in the demise of the Kais isn't really stated in this story, though it is stated in my theogony, which makes this easter egg more apparent to those who have read both stories.
- Those the Kai summons appear to be a Kai sub-species, not actually Kais themselves. I don't want to say too much more on this subject, though, as that would be revealing too much. The identity of what a Kai is (what a god is) and the Kais' penchant for following in the Daman's footsteps by also subverting lesser beings are both thematically important to this section.
- The ocean serves as a symbol both for the sustaining of life and the taking away of life in this chapter.
- Verlate was unable to get the Kai off of her at once because she was not expecting him to pull such a maneuver and thus was unable to properly power up to deal with him. Her shock at what he was doing allowed him to do it more freely.
- One of the most fun things in this story was me exploring the Kai getting energy capabilities for the first time and how he goes from a state of primitiveness with them to elegance. This gradual development is symbolic of the Kais' unexpected rise to becoming the gods of the universe as well.
- Notice how Verlate calls the Daman the "Superior Daman", distinguishing them from all other mortal species. Verlate's elitist tendencies blinded her to the capabilities of the Kais to take energy from her. She thought that being above them in thought meant that she was objectively and permanently better than them and in no danger. Thus, with her guard down, she was easily taken out by the Kai, even though she is much more powerful in terms of raw power.
- Verlate has come to the Kai homeworld to share some knowledge to help their species develop. However, the information the Kais take from her is destructive and ki-related. Knowledge itself is destruction. The Kais' old way of life would have been destroyed one way or another by Verlate's visit, something she perhaps did not realize. Even if she had just told them things, their way of life would have changed. But I went the destructive ki route to show how Verlate's mere presence has radically changed things for the worse.
- The last sentence of this chapter is quite interesting, since that is perhaps the last time that Verlate does not think until she dies much later in the Fulfillment Saga. It's quite ironic in that way - Verlate is so well-known for always thinking, never not thinking, that when she ultimately stops thinking, it's quite shocking.
Abusus Non Tollit Usum
When there was no more structure, nor reason, nor order, the Kai – by this point, filled with the stolen power of the Legate – descended back upon his own city of birth. As it always is with these kinds of things, the escalation factor, at present, yielded great concern. Without a guardian force to stop him, this Kai could do anything with the power. For in his own mind, the Kai had been groveled upon and cheated. He had been lied to. He had been beaten down and spit upon by his peers. Now that he held power, all of the petty offenses against him became more and more clear and they angered him all the same. None could stand in his way now; he knew this. It was only a matter of his investment. For he knew, eventually he would be challenged. But until then, he would make do. For that single stoppage point against him was currently lying at the bottom of the sea; unconscious, weary, and with a broken jaw. The Kai had the power too.
He looked down upon his burned hands, his purple skin flaking off from the disaster that was his previous attempt at making energy. Controlling energy like that alien had was no easy feat. Even with his quick mind, he had failed to understand the basic concepts of handling it. Eventually, he would learn how to compel it how he wished. That was certain. The Kai always got his way. For now, he could… practice.
Strange how that word sounded so alien.
The Kai placed his boot back into the sand. Swimming back from the ocean had been tedious. He, obviously, hadn’t figured out a way to fly yet, so he was still limited to his regular travel. The Kai was not a strong person at all; a bureaucratic life had all but stifled his active life. Besides, he was wealthy enough to have guard dogs do most of the work for him. The short swim had, embarrassingly, left him short of breath. He gathered himself up for a while before beginning his walk back to the city. It was unfitting to let anyone see him like this.
The Kai reached his home in no more than an hour; by walking he had set a nice pace which would guise his lack of endurance to all onlookers. By then, the sun was just beginning to fall behind the great Kaiju Tree that protruded up from the ranks of buildings ahead. Indeed, every city was founded around a Kaiju Tree, where all Kais were born, and the noble Kai was glad to see his birth-tree still standing. The common Kais paid him no notice when he returned. But he chuckled to himself. They wouldn’t know of how he had changed in these brief few minutes. There was no logical reason to suspect anything, on their part. But he had changed. For the better.
He walked forward until he noticed a Kai working on a piece of brick-outlay. This being, as he recognized, was the very same fellow who had lied to him three days prior about the aqueduct. It had fallen into disrepair under his watch, though it wasn’t his fault. This worker had made no mention of it. By his omission, the Kai had been lambasted by the higher ups. They had held him responsible for the idleness of these others.
The Kai was a logical being; every member of his species was. Even the most stupid, innocent ones were logical in their motivations. But the Kai had no morality. He had grown past such contrivances. He valued no life more so than he valued a hot meal or a good pair of boots. Anything that remained useful, he would cherish. But that which held no purpose to him any longer, be it anything, had to be erased.
“Forty-three,” the Kai spoke with thin authority. “Come here. Now.”
The other Kai shook his hands and turned his head. Seeing it was his taskmaster, he dropped his tools and walked on over. “What is it, sir? Got more work for me that can’t wait?”
“No,” he replied, hiding a smile. “Did you hear of my injunction? It was two days ago.”
“N-no… I had not heard…”
“I expected as much, Forty-three,” he replied, with a calm voice. “You may go back to your post.”
“If that’s all you are to call me over here for, I think I shou–”
“Quiet. Be quiet!” said the Kai, in a sudden scream.
He dropped to his knees, gasping and trembling. But the others paid no notice and Forty-three was also unconcerned. The useless lackey walked back to his work, shaking his head. Of course the worker would ignore him. All of them would for now. But that was just because they didn’t know his pain.
This pain was because of the energy. The Kai had attempted to bring forth his energy, but it felt as if his veins were burning hot, as if they were on fire when he tried. The Kai raised out his shaking hand, using all of his mind’s power to focus the energy. It began flowing out from his fingers uncontrollably. Like before, it was dripping out like water would – though when each drop hit the earth, it glassed the ground, sending up puffs of smoke.
He tried focusing the energy, but it just wouldn’t budge. No matter how much effort he put forth, it simply sprayed out in a lame stream that looked more like a show of incontinence than prowess.
Standing up, the Kai tried again. But even with new elevation, it was not working. The crackling, hissing sound being given off by the dropping energy caused Forty-three, ahead, to turn ‘round again. He looked puzzled at the sight of his taskmaster having streams of what looked like liquid flowing out from his finger tips.
“Sir, what are you doing?” he asked with trepidation.
Caught in his deceits, the Kai jumped back, flinging his arms wildly as he went. The energy, still sputtering out, shot flying up into the air. But as the Kai should know, gravity makes everything come back down again. And so it did, mere moments later, on top of Forty-three’s and the other workers’ heads.
Nigh a moment later, the working area went kaboom. And it was not just a regular explosion, such as the one the Legate had used against the Kai’s imps; it was a large one, filled with smoke and fire, and it sent much dirt and brick and steel spinning around. Suffice to say, when the dust cleared, everything in the vicinity was blown away.
Well, everything besides the other Kais. Though there were bruised and bloodied, and some were quite dirty, all of them were still standing, alive.
Forty-three lunged at the Kai, obviously angry at what his taskmaster had just done. He grabbed the other Kai by the shins, and toppled him over. In but a moment, the worker had him pinned. He began raining blows down upon the Kai, who was too weak to defend against the assault. As the worker was about to raise his fist for another blow, he noticed the energy had landed on him. At once, he felt the stuff surge through his body; completely encapsulating him. He raised out his hand, and, just as it was with the other Kai, the energy began pouring out in a stream. His eyes opened in wonder.
The original Kai’s eyes also widened at this. He was horror-struck. “No!”
“You be quiet now,” replied Forty-three. He stuffed his hand over the Kai’s face, letting the energy pour on it. The Kai writhed and attempted to scream as the stuff burned and melted away his face. Shoving the energy forward with more force, Forty-three managed to create an actual ball of energy. It exploded just over the heads of the Kai and himself.
“Why didn’t it work?!” screamed out the Kai. “Why didn’t it work?!”
It was too late. He and his worker were caught up in the ball, which was dissolving both of them in a matter of moments. The energy released from this was powerful, sending off a shock wave akin to the one that the Kai had used against Verlate. Only, this time, the energy, all of it, was set free as their bodies burned away, and it began to drift through the air back into the city. Back to where many more Kais lived.
A streak of purple stretched across the sky, like a long, bleeding gash of an ill-kept wound. Plumes of smoke and cloud clung about it like maggots on flesh. It had been several hours since Verlate, the gods’ Legate, had been kicked to the bottom of the sea. In the time that she had been unconscious, the sea had disappeared. Perhaps it was from that streak above, but she did not know. Indeed, the sudden absence of the waters had been what woken her – that and the pain in her jaw.
Verlate stood up. It had been several hours since she been attacked, but she remembered everything leading up to it vividly. That one Kai she had been watching – it was him who had taken her powers. Not that she could have known, or even done anything about it after she had known. But still, it made her feel hollow inside.
Gingerly, she ran her fingers over her mouth, confirming, with several sharp breaths, her entire lower jaw line as being broken. As it was, she could not so much as utter a word without immense pain accompanying it. In that case, she would remain silent. She was used to being silent.
The more pressing matter at hand was not her own discomfort. Verlate knew this. Ahead of her, several dozen miles ahead, the city that Verlate had visited was now smoking in ruin. The towers she had witnessed before were mostly collapsed, with only a few left standing. Even they were on fire, as was much of the rest of the city. The Great Kaiju Tree at the center of the town was burnt and charred, and many of its branches were split asunder.
Verlate flew to the ashen city, only landing on the edge of the southernmost spire. There were bodies strewn about everywhere. Overturned barrels and flattened tents littered the streets. The fires were blowing through, coating everything in the hungry flames. Then, from behind Verlate, a loud bang went off.
From the shacks behind, where she had figured most of the Kais lived, a duo of the purple-skinned creatures came bumbling out into the street. They tripped over each other, punching and kicking and spitting at one another with wild fury. Eventually crashing up against a far wall, the two stopped. The one on top jumped back and threw out his hands. From them erupted a shot of energy; with but a quick flash and another bang, the second figure was disintegrated.
The Legate was not one to meddle in the affairs of others. Ironic for her position, but the pettiness that she witnessed on many of the planets she visited was tiresome to her. Eventually, she had given up everything besides the most basic contact with the various species. However, she had known the Kais did not possess any capabilities to control self-based energy. Actually, they were considered to be rather pedestrian in regards to threat level. So why were they shooting energy at one another?
She remembered, however, that the Kai she had taken to enlighten had stolen her powers. He had even made a basic ki blast out of it, using her energy reserves to try his experiments. Still, these Kais were not him. It had only been a few hours that she had been blacked out, and there was no possible way that the others could have mimicked him so quickly.
The victorious Kai turned now to Verlate. So as to not confuse anyone in the coming paragraphs, he will henceforth be referred to as Savage. Savage’s eyes and hands were fluttering madly, like a drug addict’s during withdrawal. He lowered to all fours and then scurried forward. Verlate was taken aback by such a offensive move and only reacted at the last second, sidestepping out of Savage’s way. Before Savage could try another attack, she jumped back and kicked a heap of rubbish into his way. Surely, it wasn’t any type of damaging attack, but it would give her time to get away.
She flew up to the roof of the shack cluster. At least the Kais couldn’t fly.
She surveyed the entire city, watching it crumble before her. If this was really because of that Kai taking her powers, than this was all her fault. All of the ruin before her eyes must have come from her stolen powers. The thought of it brought up that hollow feeling in her stomach. It was painful, unbearable to think about – that she could be responsible for all these deaths.
On the edge of her field of vision, she saw even greater explosions popping up. They were everywhere. And Verlate knew that even if she were at her full power, she alone could not stop this.
Savage (the rascal) had, in this time, found a way to climb up to the roof. Bitterly annoyed that the alien had been ignoring it, the thing threw itself on the back of Verlate. Verlate stumbled forward and reached behind to her back, trying to grab the thing and throw it off of her, but it held steadfast. Those long fingers of the Kais were such an irritation.
With a jump, Verlate leapt from the roof back to the ground. She landed, hard, on her back; on the Kai, who was called Savage. Instantly, he let go, letting her roll away. But Savage was not as damaged by this as Verlate had hoped and he sprung up quickly. He raised both of his hands and shot out fire from them. Instinctively, Verlate put up an energy barrier with her weary arms. It would go against who she was to kill this Kai. He was insane, but it was not his fault. Even as the fire began breaking through her shield, burning her hands and paining her squinting eyes, she did not have any hatred for this creature. No, she reserved her fury for herself.
The barrier held for a while before going pink and shattering. Verlate was thrown back, as was Savage. But the dust obscured the other’s vision of Verlate, and he lost track of her. Running off down an alley to the left, Savage missed Verlate hiding under some refuse right in front of him. After losing him, Verlate took to the sky again. She decided to fly to the Kai’s house – the Kai that she had given this power to before. She could not think of anything else to do. If she was to find this creature, his house would most logically not be where he was located, but it was her only reference point in the entire city. She had to start somewhere.
But Verlate never got to the house. She never even took so much as three steps before it happened. The entire city blew up. It was a Kai, or perhaps several. But it did not matter who. It was frightening, alone, to her to see how little of her excess power could have been tapped into and used to destroy so much. The blast was enough to completely erase the town from the planet, but it only gave Verlate a host of light scratches and bruises.
She was thrown far away, back into the sand. Now that it was night, the heat of the place was gone, but Verlate felt no better because of it.
At once, a creature teleported in front of Verlate. It was slender, tan-skinned, and covered in the same style of robes (though they were colored dark green) as Verlate. It was a fellow Damani that she saw standing before her. At the sight of it, the Legate stumbled up into a stance. Since she still could not talk from her broken jaw, she simply motioned to the other her predicament.
It did not speak immediately, either. Simply, it strode forward, and grasped onto Verlate’s face. Verlate was surprised by this, jumping back slightly, but she let the creature keep its hands on her. With one swift movement, the other, still silent, pulled on Verlate’s jaw, ripping it forward, and back into place. Verlate dropped to her knees but did not cry. She clutched her jaw and winced.
The other Damani did not notice. Instead, he was already looking behind him at the wreckage of the planet. There were still huge blasts going off all over the planet. Many could be seen, but even more could be felt. The entire place was rumbling steadily. The planet would not hold for much longer.
Then, the other Damani turned back to Verlate, “Legate… what happened here? Did they refuse our offers? Did you not show them yet?”
Verlate took a moment to prepare her voice before speaking. When she did, it was flat and emotionless, “I have yet to contact their leadership. I was attempting to gain access when one of them found me and seized a great deal of my power. There was nothing that could be done–”
“This planet’s compromised state was due to you?”
“Take me to the courts if you wish,” she said. “I have nothing more to say. I have already failed through my actions.”
Verlate fell to the ground. As her vision blurred, she saw the distinctive shape of a hand grabbing her. Then it all went dark.
THREE HOURS LATER
Sertung, the honorable judge, paced back and forth in front of Verlate. She stood, stony-faced, in front of him. Behind the two was the delegate – the oligarchy which held most of the power of Verlate’s race.
“I have already found out about what happened on the world of the Kais,” he began. “The folly of your ways led them to use your power to exterminate themselves en masse. What punishment do you think you deserve, Legate?”
“I am no longer the Legate, your honor. It does not matters what I think.”
“You do not deny these allegations against you? You do not deny that the blood of almost a billion Kais is on your hands?”
“How much of the population was saved, your honor?” Verlate asked, ignoring the judge’s own tactical advances.
“Ninety-nine percent of the population is dead. A little over two thousand of them are still alive. We only managed to save half a dozen of their birthing trees. We have them in a safe place. They will continue on there, out of our way.”
Sertung stopped his pacing and stood in front of Verlate. Though standing on equal terms, his presence held clear dominance.
“Verlate, you are one of our species most powerful members. That was not why you were chosen as Legate, however. You are also one of the smartest, most empathetic of our race. Were any other to be in your position, I doubt they could have maintained such professionalism and thick skin in dealing with all these races. You have been so successful in your position. What went wrong this time?”
Verlate turned her head to the delegate behind her, as she responded to the judge, “These are roles we play. But why? We are not gods; we are simply the most advanced race.”
“Now that you’ve made an error, you wish for us to stop our noble mission?! Is that what you are saying?”
“I wish we would let them develop on their own. I am tired of going to these planets. In the future, what happened to the Kais will only become more common. And what is there to gain that will not be lost a thousands times over by continuing this?”
“You don’t believe that,” Sertung said, in full confidence.
“It does not matter. We would argue indefinitely over this with no change in opinion for either of us. You already know this. So you should stop wasting our time; it has been an enemy enough to the Daman already. You must sentence me now… but I will only agree to the sentencing on one condition. Please clear the room so I may tell you it, your honor.”
The delegate, which had been mostly polite since Sertung had threatened them before, now broke out in quiet conversation at the irrational declaration of Verlate. Not only had she given up, but the creature seemed to be welcoming her punishment without fear.
The judge looked over at the rabble, instantly quieting them. With a motion of his hands, he opened the doors behind them.
“Leave now. I will sentence her alone.”
“Outrageous!” spat a member of the delegate. “This is a public trial!”
The judge did not blink an eye in the face of this growing dissension to his authority. He stood tall in front of them, “A public trial with the expected consequences. Good sir, you know as well as I the risks of having any others take part in this is too great…”
The members of the delegate continued their arguments with the judge, not backing down. To Verlate, this was all inconsequential. Her species was small in number. Over the years, their population had thinned. Mating grew tiresome and boring, just as everything else had, and many of them had forgotten to have children. Still others had succumbed to a host of mysterious diseases which seemed to plague only their species. Currently, she guessed her race to be at about five hundred strong. They would be extinct within two generations.
Her misstep was nothing she could have predicted. She was at fault, regardless. Even Verlate blamed herself, and it gave her physical anguish to even think of what had happened. Still, she thought of the Kais. Before she had intruded, they were fine. And after she came, they were crippled. What use was there, then, in her visiting them? How had she benefited anything by giving her superiors more information about a race no one cared about?
At once, Verlate was jolted back to reality with the slamming of the doors behind her. It was just her and the judge now.
“Now tell me, Verlate,” said Sertung, swiftly walking back up to face her, “what this single condition of your surrender is.”
“I will agree to the sentencing on one condition; do not appoint another Legate.”
“What? That is our purpose. Spreading knowledge and information about the universe is a noble venture. Who else could be the caretakers of every species, I ask you? Who could–”
“We should not waste breath in arguing over it. That is simply my condition.”
The judge continued, “Then who will rule the universe? Who will be the rock, the center-point for all races to cling to?”
“That is not my care. But it my condition.”
Sertung paced again for several moments. Then he reached over to a box lying in the far back. He opened it up with a flick of his finger. Immediately a bright light flooded into the small room. It completely blinded both the judge and Verlate. However, it was soundless.
“I will do it. But only because, in your absence, there will be no one to take your place,” he said. Continuing on, the judge spoke, “You know the punishment for genocide. Eternal damnation in a prison of your own devices. A prison where there are no walls or ends. Where there is no chance of escape. You will waste away in the place of your mind forever.”
Verlate did not answer, because she was swiftly met with a wind which blew about the room. It began sucking her forward. She put up no resistance to it. She felt her body become weightless as she flew by the judge, even though she could not see him. She knew the reason he was not being sucked in was because he had no crimes against him – also the reason why the members of the delegate were not allowed to stay and watch. They would surely get sucked in, too. As she flew by him, the judge spoke.
“Without the Legate, our race is done. We will be purposeless and dwindle away… waiting for another race to take over as we die.”
Verlate closed her eyes as she neared the device which would hold her for the remainder of time. She spoke softly to the judge, just before being sucked in:
“Our race is already dying an inevitable death. But if you feel so inclined… there are always the Kai. They exist here in Other World like us, and they could be taught how to rule in our stead,” Verlate whispered. “You could do it, Sertung. I know you could.”
With that, Verlate was gone.
SEVERAL YEARS LATER
Several years passed before he arrived. They did not know when he arrived, nor why, but it was something he had carefully planned.
Hyper-sentience was a rather general term which basically stated a species was almost as smart as the Daman. It was remarkable, really. The Kais in particular had been as close to trans-sentience as had ever been recorded – and this was without them having any impressive technology. They were just inherently gifted.
Sure, his race was far more gifted than theirs, but it would be hard to tell if that would have been the case had the Kais the same technological capabilities. It was a gamble to put trust in them. But it wasn’t illogical. Nothing she had ever said was.
Sertung, no longer an honorable judge, did not want to meet any of the Kais. He was not good around these species like the Verlate had been. He felt uncomfortable outside of the company of his own kind. Nevertheless, he set down the box that held her mind, and stretched out his arms. The Kais were few in number – like his race was. But his species impending extinction was nothing spectacular or worth noting; simply, it was the wasting away of talent and wit by the everlasting feeling. Or, in plain terms, death by boredom. Since he had sealed Verlate, all but a half a dozen or so of his race had perished from a mysterious illness (and those who remained were sickly, themselves). He was yet unaffected, but he knew it would soon be his time as well. He chuckled to himself as he remembered the delegate of Damani who had wanted to watch. They were all dead now. And he would be soon. So Sertung knew it was time to teach the Kais how to rule.
It did not take long for him to isolate every being on the planet; they were mostly clustered around the few salvaged Kaiju Trees anyway. However, he stopped himself from going forward. As it was, this would most likely end up how it did before. He had not thought ahead, yet, how to give them power without things turning out as they had with Verlate.
He set down his hands, giving himself time to think this through. He crouched down on the grass and began his thinking. As the day went on, Sertung saw several Kais – mostly children playing, or a few older ones doing who knows what. He did not even notice when one of them snuck up behind him.
A sharp thud on the back of the head, however, was enough to alert him properly. Sertung got up and looked behind him. A single Kai was there. He was short, probably a child, and like the others, he had purple skin with white hair layered in a spiky Mohawk.
There was no logical way for him to deflect away from this child. He had come here to give it power, so power he should give it. With a thrust of his hand, the judge transferred some of his energy into the young Kai. He sighed to himself as the Kai began shaking and convulsing around with the energy coursing through his veins.
He motioned to the Kai, flicking his wrist and shooting off a small ki blast, in the hopes that the Kai would understand and copy him. Several times he did this to no avail. The young Kai simply stared at Sertung in bewilderment.
Impatient at the Kai’s lack of focus, Sertung moved forward and grabbed onto the Kai’s hand. He forced the Kai to do the motion several times, emphasizing with his fists that force and focus should be put into it as the motion went through. Then the judge let go.
The Kai tried it once on his own. His large, innocent eyes grew to a squint as he mimicked what the other had done. The result was a huge blast, shot down in a huge line into the grass ahead of them.
Sertung sighed, looking over the small box that encompassed Verlate’s mind. He couldn’t believe that, all these years later, he was now listening to her advice. He almost wished that he was in one of those prisons – it would have denied him the responsibility of teaching these new creatures to take up the mantle.
But, he could not deny there was nothing wrong with this reason. Besides, if he was successful, the entire universe would be in good hands. He placed his arm on the Kai’s and went through the motions of ki control again.
They would be in his hands. And then, when they were ready, he and the rest of the universe would be put in theirs.
- This chapter's name is Latin for "abuse does not take away use". Basically it was Sertung's argument against Verlate that just because of this one instance, they needn't give up their mantle to the Kais. Also, this phrase applies to the idea that just because the Kais abused Verlate's power doesn't mean they can't become the new mortal gods of the universe. So in effect, the chapter name works for both sides of the argument.
- There were significant updates to this chapter during the final edits (and even before then), which did not occur with the other two Forever Alone chapters. My first major edit came back in 2011 when I named Savage (to fix a con that either Destructivedisk or Hyper Zergling had with the story) and Sertung. Later on, during the final edits, I added a lot to this chapter, most notably stuff about the Kaiju Trees and about the Daman dying out. There were a lot of minor edits as well. Overall, this chapter was edited much more than the other two in this special, but even then, the plot of it was never changed during the various drafts.
- This chapter is very long, especially for a TF chapter. Now, the special chapters are longer than the saga chapters in general because there are fewer of them and the pacing has to be adjusted accordingly. Still, at nearly 5000 words, this chapter is the second-longest TF chapter and nearly rivals the finale. No other chapter, from the specials or sagas or deleted scenes or alternate endings, is within 1500 words of it, aside from the finale.
- The sight of a Kaiju tree being in the center of a city with all these buildings around it is quite the image to me. I don't think that this was based on anything, and it's very different from how Kaiju Trees are portrayed in DBZ. I don't remember why I had them in the centers of cities, but it does draw a nice contrast between the technological world and the natural world. The Kaiju Tree is also a symbol of birth, and in this case, rebirth. The Kai, who is now imbued with all this new power, sees the Kaiju Tree as soon as he returns to his city, and I think on a subconscious level he realizes that he's been reborn, in a way.
- From the Kai's perspective, Verlate coming to his planet is a good thing because it gave him power. This is, on the surface, appearing to be quite the weird message - not a typical conqueror/slave theme. But it will soon become more standard when the Kai uses Verlate's power to destroy much of the planet (and much of that is done accidentally). Power corrupts, and the more power one has, the more corrupted one becomes.
- I can see a lot of my early writing philosophy in this Kai's thoughts, particularly those about morality and whatnot. I develop this philosophy better in more recent stories of mine, but it's always cool to look back and see the breadcrumbs, the starting points for these kinds of things. For example, I think I deal with this very same theme a lot better in Spindlerun, but that theme would not have been as well-constructed in that story had I not first tested out in earlier stories like this one. I hadn't remembered even bringing the morality stuff up in this story until I just re-read it for this commentary. It's strange re-reading something like that and not really remember writing it but at the same time recognizing it as my own writing style and tone.
- Notice how the Kai becomes an Other as soon as he takes on aspects of Verlate, of the god species. As he becomes more like them, the separation of Kai and primitive Kai becomes acute.
- There's a nice karmic cycle to the Kai's arc in this story, though it goes unfulfilled before he dies, as Forty-three doesn't get properly punished before the Kai dies (though he is later killed off-screen before the start of the second scene).
- I had forgotten how I had portrayed the main Kai in this opening section. I found the stuff about his personal life to be quite interesting and it fleshed him out in a way that I didn't remember I was capable of doing back in 2011. Some good stuff there. I think I was trying "humanize" him in the sense of making him seem a bit more sympathetic a character. He's not just this mindless villain who opposed Verlate in the last chapter. Being able to show a section from his perspective allowed me to show that he's just another being, neither evil nor good, but in it for himself. All he was trying to do, in the end, was get revenge on those who wronged him (and his confrontation with Verlate is not totally uncalled for, since she was an alien and killed several of his guards). Pity he had to go out like he did. I'm actually sad for him now that I've re-read this chapter.
- "A streak of purple stretched across the sky, like a long, bleeding gash of an ill-kept wound." - I remember being quite proud of this line when I wrote it back in 2011. This was back when I was just starting to write good stories, and evocative, cool imagery was something I wasn't as good with as I am now (I think). This sentence marks an evolution of my writing style that is still evident to this day.
- The sea was evaporated by the Kais' ki attacks. The world itself is bleeding because of Verlate being there. The sustaining function of water is destroyed, and the planet will soon die. The death of the sea foreshadows the death the planet and the near-death of the Kai species.
- Verlate's broken jaw has much symbolic meaning as it relates to her rank and the Kais.
- "She was used to being silent." - important moment of characterization there. This line has more meaning if one knows where Verlate ends up by the end of this story.
- The burnt Kaiju Tree is a symbol of the Kais' cannibalism and self-destruction after consuming Verlate's energy. They simply weren't ready to feel the power of a god. Not yet. They need training, and unfortunately for all who die in this chapter, Verlate is not the Damani for that job.
- Savage is a cool dude. Notice that his name is lightly referencing the conqueror/native/slave theme in this story. Verlate has come to civilize the Kais, and yet, how has that civilizing worked out? Who was truly civilized before they met one another? Verlate's arrogance at the future god species, considering them savages and weaklings, is something I wanted to put forth to show how messed up her view of other species is. She's not a bad person, but she looks at things with a dangerous perspective because of her species' views.
- Verlate feels small as she watches the Kai homeworld get torn apart by her stolen energy. She doesn't feel like a god then. She's powerless, without agency. Those who are not gods have overcome her.
- Verlate's character is one that I like, but one I'm also frustrated by in some instances. Her reliance on protocol and not wanting to kill the Kais and save herself are things I don't believe in and they did lead to some of the problems that happen to the Kais and their homeworld in this story. At the same time, though, the way she feels for all the dying Kais is very moving to me, and I particularly like her humility and acceptance of her failures. She's a complex character - her elitist tendencies and awkward interactions with the "lesser" species also leave much to be desired, but I can't help but feel she's a good-natured woman who just has some unfortunate views and thoughts that she is not totally conscious of.
- The long fingers of the Kais is a reoccurring motif in this story.
- Verlate saving her fury for herself even as Savage is burning her is a key moment of her characterization.
- God, Sertung's introduction is so cool with the way he just rips Verlate's jaw back into place without a word. If there's one thing I've learned while doing the TF anthology is that I have really entertained myself with the various character introductions. Sertung's is easily right up there with Cooler's and Frieza's and Digranite's, in my opinion.
- Sertung brings attention to Verlate's empathy. But notice how emotionless she is in the courtroom. This seems to be quite odd, considering she is an empath. What this implies is that Verlate is bottling up all her sorrow and disgust at herself by hiding her emotions. The fact that she is not emoting shows how devastated she truly is.
- Verlate has realized that her species is not comprised of gods after her encounters with the Kais. That is ironic, of course. But it's a good bit of character development too. She's begun to break out of her species' dogmatic views, and that breaking away will ultimately lead Sertung to make the Kais the Daman's successors.
- Notice how both the Daman and the Kais have had events that nearly wiped them out. The Daman's event, although gradual, is proving to be the more lethal of the two, however. 500 Daman is a ridiculously low number for the god species of the universe. At their height, they must have numbered in the trillions. Their fall is being paralleled by the Kais' fall, but the Daman will not recover, whereas the Kais will. The Daman have no reason to be dying off, no reason to be slowly burning away, and yet they are. In the end, everything goes away and is forgotten, even those who call themselves gods.
- Verlate knows her species is dying, as does Sertung and every other Damani. It's just something no one wants to talk about because they have no answers for why they are dying or what to do about it. Who will rule after them? They surely understand they will not last much longer. Verlate bringing up the Kais replacing them should seem like a bit of a stretch, considering how ill-suited their current population is for such a job. But the way Verlate says this to Sertung was done specifically to have Sertung go train the Kais, to help them assume the mantle. As penance for what Verlate did to them, the Daman should step down and let the Kais rule instead. That is Verlate's thought. It's a bombshell, going against thousands, if not millions, of years of Damani dogma. She only says it just as she's being sucked into the mind prison so that Sertung can neither debate nor question her about it. Even though, at first, I'm sure he does not plan on letting the Kais assume the mantle of godship, I think the fact that he was unable to argue with Verlate about it and saw that she was willing to sacrifice her life over the thought made him consider it more until he finally agrees to enact the plan (after he sees pretty much all of the Daman die off).
- Verlate was either highly courageous, entirely mad, or perhaps both. She let herself be sucked into a mind prison with almost no resistance. She fully understands that it's a place of confinement for eternity. It's a living, unceasing hell. It's far worse than death, far worse than torture. It is the inability to die, to find that eternal rest. Plus, she's going to be isolated in there. That she goes into it with such calmness and strength speaks to her character and also to her sense of needing to atone for her sins. And also, she does all of this to help the Kais ascend to the mantle of godship in the universe, so that is pretty noble too.
- It speaks to Verlate's influence on Sertung that he would carry her mind prison around with him. And yet, he didn't spare her, didn't let her off. He held her to the letter of the law, regardless of circumstances. The man is convicted in what he believes in, which makes his sudden turn to help the Kais become the new gods all that more striking.
- The Damani delegate is a minor group of characters, but I mention them more than thrice, and for good reason. They are thematically important, perhaps more so than even Sertung himself. I know that sounds blasphemous, but it could be true. You never know.
- Notice the contrast between Sertung and Little Purple and Verlate and the Kai. Even though Verlate is the nobler of the two, she failed. But it was her failure that allowed Sertung to succeed in "civilizing" the Kais.
- Sertung wanting to be in the mind prison instead of Verlate speaks to the theme I mentioned in the opening monologue of this special about being blissfully stupid being an easier life than having the burden of knowledge and responsibility on one's shoulders. This is certainly true for Sertung, who is dying from an unknown, unstoppable disease. He's watched his species die around him and he's become isolated, and yet now he has to train his successors It's a brutal spot he's put in, but he doesn't sit back and mope, even though he has such thoughts. He has to get on with his training, even if it makes him uncomfortable and is robbing him of his last precious years/months alive. He is doing everything while thinking about the good of the universe, and that is quite noble in and of itself.
- "They would be in his hands. And then, when they were ready, he and the rest of the universe would be put in theirs." - these are amongst the best lines I wrote for this special. They clearly and beautifully explain Sertung's mission to train the Kais to become the new gods of the universe.
- I like to think that Little Purple grew up to be the first Supreme Kai.
- Sertung is, in effect, one of the most important beings in existence because he trained the Kais and set them up to be the gods of the universe. He did a lot (most of it is unseen, though) to make the Kais into who they are even in DBZ. Remnants of what Sertung taught the Kais is still evident in the canon Kais in DBZ. And yet, despite all of that, Sertung is not remembered. Verlate is not remembered. The Daman are not remembered. Their species ruled the universe; they saved the universe; they did so many important things. And yet, in the end, they too are the forgotten.
Rock And Pool Is So Nice And Cool
MANY YEARS LATER, AROUND THE 35 BEFORE AGE
When there was no more to say or do – the pinnacle of thought already having been reached be eons of constant use – Verlate, the disgraced envoy of her species, and perhaps the last living memory of those creatures, was briefly reprieved from her eternal isolation.
The mind prison she had been put in, while not the homeliest of places, was as vast and infinite as it was desolate. There was nothing in it – at least not at first. It was all white, staunchly blanketed in the blinding color over every inch of what she could see. But, as she soon came to realize, Verlate’s mind prison was indeed fit to house more than a single being. During her time alive, Verlate had never heard of such a thing. Nor should she have. For two beings in an eternal mind prison would be torture beyond torture. And her species frowned upon cruel and unusual punishment.
Nevertheless, Verlate had been visited on so much as two previous occasions, though neither ended well for her. The first creature was a wild bird, half the size of Verlate, and it had stayed with her a long time. It was not for any real reason, the creature was not pleasant to be around, nor did she suspect it thought highly of her. The mere reason for it not being thrown out of her prison was that Verlate had no idea how to get rid of the thing (and, by extension, get free herself). So they had sat, day after day, wasting away, until the second had come. This other creature, a small rodent of sorts, was less mindful, and more duplicitous, leading Verlate to spend almost all of her time watching it. She was careful to not let it leave her sight, lest it do something naughty.
In the end, this diligence caused her to forget the bird.
And that is what did it. Basically, as soon as Verlate forgot about the first being. It was free to leave. By the time Verlate had remembered the creature, it was too late. The bright light had opened the sky above, letting it fly away. It was not long thereafter she connected her lack of thought with the departure. Verlate tested it again with the second creature, and to her surprise (as much as it was her relief), that one was thrown out too.
Once again, Verlate was alone. How she spent her time there, wasting in the desolation of infinitude was not especially interesting. She had learned to craft that which she thought into reality… at least the reality of her prison. She could create a bed, a chair, a nice pool for swimming. She made a whole home for herself, eventually.
It was at this time, after she had crafted herself her place to live, that the prison had been opened again. Every time this would happen, the blinding light would become unbearable, shining even whiter than usual. Verlate had not noticed, however. Instead, she was in a deep meditation, wafting through a gentle stream of water she crafted some time before. The flowing of the water helped her think, and in this place, that was all there was to do. But so entranced was she that Verlate did not notice, aside from the brightening light, the small streak of a creature now inside her prison.
The new creature, white and furry, moved deftly on its hind legs, its paws barely touching down on the foggy earth before springing forward in a new step. It came to the place where Verlate usually stayed; a grand foray, encompassed by huge onyx pillars. A few tables stood around, but all were barren. Indeed, the only piece of this home that seemed alive was the trickling of a stream flowing into its center. Kneeling among the swirling waters was, with her head bowed, the former Legate.
“What have you come for now? Words of wisdom or a chance at adventure?” said Verlate.
“I, uh, actually was just looking for my favorite ball of yarn, and I… well I accidentally opened your thingymajig here,” the other responded, laughing slightly.
The creature was a cat; one with quite generous proportions, who stood on two legs, but a cat nonetheless. Of course, Verlate did not know what a cat was, so she could not appreciate him. In his hands, he cradled a finely carven wood cane, with the rest of his body being as nature intended. Aside from his stark white coat (which made it ever so hard to see him against the foreground), there was little to his character that interested Verlate.
“What is this place ya got here?” asked the cat.
“Damnation,” said Verlate. “A place where even the smallest of thoughts can be expanded forever until you are a mindless, obsessive wretch like me. You are trapped with me, from now on.”
Unperturbed, the cat jumped up on one of the rock pillars, feeling its long jagged lines, etched with untold amounts of runic art.
“Oh, you’re a craftsman too.”
“Tell me your name before we go on, quadruped.”
“Hey, that’s rude. Cantcha see I walk on two legs just like you? I’m not an animal! Sheesh, can’t a guy get a break around here?”
Verlate remained silent, staring up at the cat as he babbled on to himself. The cat, seeing he would get no answer from her until he stated his name, sighed and became serious.
“The name’s Korin, all right? Korin the cat.”
“How did you find this place, Korin?” she asked, now in a whisper.
“I was wandering the desert and I saw this box. So I went on over to pick it up and… Hey! Can you make anything you want in here?” he screeched out, seeing the platform in front of him. Such a place would make a brilliant spot to take a nap in the sun.
“Yes, Korin. I have learned how to make my thoughts a reality in this place.”
“How about giving this poor cat a nice fish? Or at least a windowsill to lie on in the sun? Is that too much for a guy to ask?”
A bit taken aback by Korin’s lack of seriousness, particularly about being in the prison, Verlate stopped him, dimming the bright light into a dull grey. With this overcast look, she hoped to suck all the energy out of him.
“Korin the cat, if you wish to leave this place, you must gain my approval.”
“Yeah, yeah. Later. But first I will take a nap, there,” was his response, as he pointed toward the platform ahead.
Verlate was stricken dumb by this. How could anyone be so blasé about such a serious matter? It was a prison, a place which no one could leave until she stopped thinking about them. She had to let him leave, didn’t he get that? How couldn’t he?
“I…” Verlate began, but quickly stopped, seeing it was no use to try the same tactic over and over again. As she pondered a new strategy to make him yield, the cat raised his own paw and spoke.
“Hey, I know there’s probably some test ya want me to take, right? Some little rite of passage or something? Am I close?”
The correct, rational answer to his question was a resounding ‘no’. This was no game, nor a place for frivolity. Yet, something inside Verlate compelled her to not so quickly dismiss him. Perhaps she could play along and make this a game for his sake. Maybe it would make him leave sooner.
“You are most correct, Korin. Watch me,” said Verlate.
She thrust her arms forward, weaving them back and forth in a delicate pattern. At once, various structures began popping up. Spire and stone, intermixed with trees and other foliage, sprung up into a huge outcrop. She had in but a moment created an entire forest before their eyes. Verlate lowered her hands, now satisfied at her work.
“You will go in there and find for me the one with two–”
“Yeah, I hate to interrupt ya, but I’m not into playin’ cat and mouse games,” Korin snickered. “Imagine that.”
“These are my conditions!” spoke Verlate, puzzled at his defiance.
“Well, listen to me. It looks like ya just made up whatever ya were plannin’ on the spot. From what I saw ya doing in your free time, you must be pretty boring.”
Verlate could hardly mask her annoyance as she opened her mouth again, “In that case what would you suggest, master Korin?”
“Know any good riddles?” he replied, coyly.
“A riddle? What is a riddle?”
“And I thought you were supposed to be smart.”
“This mind prison is probably not an everyday punishment. You must have been a real big-time criminal, eh? I thought ya got put in here because you did something really horrible. And ya’d have to be smart to pull that off.”
“You are diverting from our topic. Explain to me these riddles.”
“Fine, fine. A riddle is like a word puzzle,” said Korin.
“What is a word puzzle?” asked Verlate.
Korin squinted his eyes together, as if not believing that someone could be so inept on certain subjects. “Well for example, a riddle would be…” Korin drew himself up into his most regal, high-chinned pose before continuing, “ For some I go fast/ for others I’m slow./ To most people, I’m an obsession/ relying on me is a well practiced lesson.”
“Just say the first thing that comes to mind.”
“A good friend?”
“No no no,” said Korin. “Riddles are mind games; you have to think outside the box to understand them. I woulda thought you of all people could have got that one. The answer was time…”
“Time,” Verlate repeated. She took her fingers and began writing in the thin air, her long, curly writing flowing up onto the void as if she were writing on paper. She stared at the riddle when she was done. “Time… yes I see time. Abstract, yet logical. Are all riddles like this?”
“Only the good ones. That one wasn’t even one of the harder ones. Just wait until ya get better, then you’ll be doing these no problem, your highness.”
“Show me another,” she asked, most politely. By this time, Verlate had forgotten that Korin was a bothersome being – one which she was trying to get rid of. Her own thirst for knowledge was overriding her previous goal.
The two stayed for some time, days perhaps, as they recounted riddles with one another. Verlate came up with her first riddle: ‘It has trigonal crystals/ with vitreous luster/ and is colored black and white’ to which, naturally, the answer was onyx. Though, as she soon learned, such bland and straightforward descriptions were quite terrible to read. But she did not fear, for Korin was her teacher.
But occasionally, talk turned to Korin and his life. He was a wanderer; that much he had given up to her; a talking cat still in his prime. He had come across Verlate’s mind prison as an abandoned box in the desert when he went looking for a runaway yarn ball. As soon as he had picked it up, the light overcame him and he was thrust inside. There was no sign nor mention of Verlate’s species, nor the Kai species anywhere around the box’s placement, nor was there any note left on the box itself. This Korin had promised to be true. But it was no matter to linger on, for Verlate had no idea what had happened to either species. If she could hope for one thing, though, it would be that her martyring acted as a catalyst for the Kais to take over her role. Still, as Korin had put it, the world seemed fine enough as it was.
Verlate had believed the cat as he spoke. Unlike her previous two roommates, Korin had earned her trust and respect in their riddle-making. While often being aloof or downright unpredictable, Korin had been a fun person to talk to. It alleviated her boredom. And she knew when he was gone, Verlate would have more to do. To come up with impressive riddles and mind games to show her mental superiority. It was something she looked forward to.
Nevertheless, Korin had no plans on staying. Verlate had seen it in his eyes; still young they were and eager for something else. Something more exciting than explaining what riddles are to an ancient and disgraced being. It had only been a short time (to Verlate) since he arrived, and already Korin was eager to leave. So it was then that she decided to let him go.
“I only have to un-think you and you will leave,” Verlate said, bluntly, as she interrupted Korin explaining a particularly complex riddle to her.
“Gettin’ rid of me so soon, I see?” he responded.
“It is no secret you do not wish to stay.”
Korin jumped up. Verlate was right. He did not have any reason to stay. It was a serene place, but its infinite expanse and lacking décor really weighed heavily on his patience. He would not miss it much.
“Maybe you should close your eyes. It’ll help you not think of me.”
More to herself than to Korin, Verlate wondered aloud, “I wish I could get out too.”
“Just unthink yourself, and it will all go well.”
“No! No. That would kill me. I was told if I tried to escape, I would die.”
“Look, all’s ya need to do is just trick your mind into unthinking another person, but switching them with yourself at the last second. Then you could get out and have another person stuck in here. Of course, I mean someone besides me!”
Verlate was silent for two whole moments as her mind calculated and reasoned with the logic of what Korin had just said. In the end, her response was a meek, “Would that work?”
“I don’t know. You should try it sometime… but not on me. Yeah, don’t try it on me! I’d really like to get back outside, y’know.”
“I will remember your words, Korin,” said Verlate, nodding to the cat. “They are wiser than I could have expected.”
Not listening, Korin flexed his claws. “Good luck with all that. You’re gonna need it.”
At that, Verlate closed her eyes. It took no more than a moment before she had stopped her mind from thinking of Korin. Then, once again it was just her. As she opened her eyes, she could have sworn she heard someone shout ‘see ya!’ but she could not be sure. What she was sure of, though, was that the cat was gone.
Korin was gone.
Verlate had spent only a short part of her life with the strange cat. In it, she had learned some basic riddle-making techniques. It was interesting to her, now piecing it together with his last bit of information. If she were to switch bodies with a creature coming in – though she was not even sure such a thing was doable in its own right – she would have to first get their guard down. Make their mind focus on something different. Something like a riddle.
Her own antiquated notions of morality aside, it was a genius plan.
Verlate walked back to her stream and knelt down in it. The waters pooled and swirled at her untimely arrival, but as she became still, so did they. It was unknown how much time she would have to come up with some riddles, but they would have to be good. Things no being could solve easily. They would have to buy her time to switch bodies. She could think up the specifics later. For now, she had a concrete, fathomable plan… and it gave her hope. Hope that she would, one day, be free again.
Still, a nagging thought crept into her mind. Verlate couldn’t help but feel that such a trickery was unjust, far more despicable than even what she had done to the Kais. Leaving someone in here for all of time was a fate worse than death. Was she desperate enough to do it? Korin had been okay with it. But should she listen to him?
It did not matter, she thought to herself. Were anyone to come here, she would gauge them and make the decision then.
There would be no point to over-think it.
- This chapter's name is a quote by Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. It was a song/riddle that he sang once about catching a fish (rock and pool is so nice and cool upon my feet, so juicy sweeeet!/ I only wish to catch a fish, so juicy sweeeeet!). Needless to say, it was chosen because Verlate learned about riddles in this chapter, and they become very important later on in the Fulfillment Saga.
- The final edits for this chapter were minimal; I did some rewordings of dialogue and prose, but nothing of importance was changed or added - just minor, little things to improve the overall quality of the chapter.
- For this chapter, I really wanted to tie it to the upcoming Fulfillment Saga. Since I had already written the Planet Earth Saga, Reunion Saga, and all of the Fulfillment Saga (sans the very last chapter), this meant that I already had Verlate's plot within the sagas of this story plotted out. I just had to show how it got to that point. This special follows a similar pattern as Outbreak in that the first two chapters are primarily about the protagonist's backstory and the third chapter is where the tie in to the Dragon Ball universe and TF itself comes in. For Forever Alone, I could have had the first two chapters be split into three chapters (the second chapter is long enough in itself to be split in two). But I kept the pacing of 3 chapter specials, just like I kept the pacing of 12 chapter sagas for the final version of this story. I wanted everything to be the same in that regard. I could have also added in a chapter for how Verlate's mind prison even got to Earth but felt like that wasn't relevant to Verlate's plot. That was a con DD had for this story (I don't remember what other reviewers though of the time-skip between chapters 2 and 3), and that's fine. He can have a problem with that, but for me, the reason I didn't do that is because this is a story of Verlate's journey. Where her mind prison ends up is not really relevant to her, for she has no knowledge of Earth, nor can she gain knowledge of it to any meaningful capacity.
- All that said, I may eventually show how Verlate's mind prison got to Earth. As I've been doing this commentary, I've gotten an idea about Sertung and a most interesting character meeting, and perhaps I'll make that a story in my upcoming 2016 one-shot collection (this commentary was written on 12/24/15). No promises, though. (6/18/2016 KV update: turned out I didn't use this idea for my 2016 one-shot collection, but I may use it in my 2017 one if I do a 2017 collection)
- The time-frame of this story indicates that Korin himself is rather young, which may play a part in how he interacts with Verlate. It's left deliberately vague if, by this point, he's the mythical figure and martial artist master he becomes later.
- "And her species frowned upon cruel and unusual punishment." - quite the ironic statement, given Verlate's current location. Notice, though, that she herself doesn't consider the mind prison to be cruel and unusual punishment, despite it clearly being that.
- Verlate learning how to craft the reality of her mind prison is a subtle thing in this story, but it becomes hugely important later, as we see how skilled she has become in this regard in the Fulfillment Saga.
- Water is an important symbol in this story. Notice its evolution as a symbol from the start of the story, to the second chapter, and to this point. It's gone from being a symbol of life, to death, to comfort and peace and thought.
- Verlate's home in this chapter looks much like the home of The Imprisoned One in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - and that character is, of course, the being whom Verlate is based on.
- Verlate being in her prison for so long with no chance of escape has numbed her to reality, as evidenced by her first encounter with Korin. Notice the difference in demeanors of the two - Korin is much livelier, much more full of life. Verlate is wasting away, slowly burning out like a dying star.
- Verlate calling Korin a quadruped is something that she does with beings she meets. She calls Ledas a biped in the Fulfillment Saga, for example. This is a remnant of her type of speech as a Legate and a mortal god of the universe. It is striking in its alien tone, and I wanted it to be clear that Verlate is very much an alien, on Earth and otherwise.
- As I've stated numerous times before, I love writing for Korin because of his wit and humor, and it was nice to finally have a really funny moment in this story, since everyone and everything has been so serious and sad up to this point. Korin is a great foil to Verlate, for his own whimsical and sarcastic personality reveals a lot about her and how broken she has become since the start of this story.
- I'd like to think that Korin wandering in the desert was part of his own journey toward becoming a mythological figure, and perhaps he sees Verlate's mind prison as a test on that journey. One must remember that every character is the protagonist of their own life, and here, two major protagonists are crossing paths at highly divergent states-of-mind. Each character helps the other grow in a way, though not in the ways either expects.
- Korin is being very cat-like and funny on purpose to lower Verlate's guard and suspicion of him. He does want to get out of the mind prison, but he has the intelligence to understand that going at it in a panicked, angry way will get him nowhere. He's being quite devious in this chapter.
- I have no memory of writing the cat-and-mouse game part of this chapter. Quite an odd section, that is.
- Korin calling Verlate boring is an example of him being her foil. He is also bringing this fact to her attention, not just the readers', so that she herself can react accordingly. Also, the fact that Verlate has become so boring, so listless, so numb, is because she's spent hundreds of millions of years in this mind prison, with only two other companions before Korin (and both of them were barely sentient and didn't stay long). She's incredibly lonely and trapped in her own thoughts. She is being overwhelmed by her thoughts, which she cannot stop. It's a living hell. One could probably exhaust all interesting things to do in the mind prison in a year at most, and yet she's been in the mind prison for hundreds of millions of years. The fact that she is still sentient at this point is a testament to her mental fortitude.
- The first Korin riddle is one that I took from an online site. It's a really famous riddle. I thought it wise to start with a defined riddle for Korin's first moment of being a teacher, and then perhaps I could branch off into my own made-up riddles later on.
- Korin is playing the teacher to Verlate about riddles. This is a moment of character development for him too. His journey is to become a good teacher and a guy who can share wisdom, which he later does quite often in DB, DBZ, and TF. This is one of the earliest moments for him to practice that craft.
- Also notice how Verlate doesn't know what a riddle is. On a meta level, that is quite humorous and playful, but it also speaks to this idea of cultural isolationism. Some species/cultures grow up not knowing about certain things that other culture/species consider to be important aspects of their lives. Korin is opening up Verlate's world view. Despite Verlate being a Legate who traveled the universe bringing knowledge to many species, she herself is quite close-minded and not aware of the myriad of cultures and traditions of the species she visited. This fact is ironic, and it works on thematic and character-development levels.
- Verlate's answer to Korin's first riddle is telling. She doesn't even think it's time - the thing that has been around her all these years, which has been her comfort and her torment. It's ironic that she cannot see the answer to the riddle as being "time", and this fact also shows how numb and hopeless she has become.
- “Riddles are mind games; you have to think outside the box to understand them" - this is quite the clever joke by Korin.
- I don't remember the origin of Verlate's first riddle. Either I or DD came up with it, but I'm not certain who did. I would lean towards me being the creator, though.
- Korin finding Verlate's mind prison half buried in the sand brings up parallel imagery from Ozymandias, my favorite poem ever. Considering this, one should then understand that perhaps the themes of this story and that poem are parallel to a degree, particularly those themes on time, legacy, passion, and intent.
- This idea that Verlate, a former super-powerful being and self-proclaimed god, could be reduced to a forgotten trinket in a desolate desert is quite the striking imagery. This in particular is related to the theme of being forgotten, which is one of the main themes in all of TF. Verlate has been forgotten, she has wasted away, and yet, unique to her, she has persisted. She is living in a world that has evolved away from her; she is no longer a part of it. She has gone from being the One to being the Other. The fall of the Daman has been as spectacular as it has been complete.
- I didn't want to show the process of Verlate coming up with her riddles too much, as that would be boring as fuck. As with training montages in other sagas/stories of mine, this was a tricky thing to show. I didn't want to show too much, for that would lead to boring reading, and not showing enough wouldn't explain Verlate's progress adequately. So to remedy this problem, I took a middle ground where I showed Verlate guessing at Korin's riddle, then crafting her first one (which was quite bad - and, to an extent, this is me commenting on my own progression as a writer on this site). Then, we fast-forward to the Fulfillment Saga, where her riddles become truly excellent. Her chapters in that saga are the overall payoff of this story (particularly this chapter).
- Notice how Verlate thinks that she will be mentally superior to other beings if she can master the art of the riddle. This is a personality trait that she shares with the Daman and makes her more of a grey, realistic character. Verlate is still who she was brought up to be, despite being hundreds of millions of years removed from being a part of the Damani culture. Despite being the Other, she still perceives herself as the One, to an extent.
- Verlate has, up to this point, not really considered getting out of her mind prison, because she thought it was impossible. Korin, of all people, is the one who makes it seem like it could be possible. The strategy that he offers her is one that she later uses in the Fulfillment Saga (though to no success). However, Korin's words of encouragement - of hope - that Verlate could get out of the mind prison ultimately lead her to the strategy she employs against Ledas and The Benefactor late in the next saga. But more on that when we get to that point.
- Verlate's strategy for dealing with The Benefactor and Ledas comes about during the last few paragraphs of this chapter, tying this special specifically to the last TF saga. She is beginning to understand how to use riddles not just to alleviate her boredom, but perhaps to save herself. I am building this up as a grand redemption arc for Verlate, culminating in her achieving freedom in the end. Unfortunately, I don't go through with that idea, and instead subvert such a common trope by having Verlate kill herself in the next saga. Verlate has a sense of hope in this story, but the culmination of that hope in the last TF saga is not a standard thematic resolution for the idea of hope.
- Verlate's idea that her sense of morality is antiquated is a bit of social commentary on my own part - though as to who or what it is referencing, I cannot say explicitly.
- Notice how the water is turbulent for a moment until Verlate becomes still, and then the water and Verlate become one. This little moment has important thematic and character-building meaning.
- The last line in this chapter (and story) is perhaps my favorite line in all of Forever Alone. I think it works on many different levels, the most notable being its appropriate-ness, considering all that has gone on in the story up to that point.
- One last thing I want to mention is that this special is meant to be read before the Fulfillment Saga, even though it is a special of that saga. For Outbreak, that special works better if one reads it after reading the Prince Vegeta Saga. Additionally, I chose to have this one set up like that so that the last Fulfillment Saga chapter would be the last part of TF overall. This story also occurs at the earliest time in TF, so it wouldn't make sense for it to be the last part of the story.
For my own reference, the chapter word counts are as follows:
- 1: 3384
- 2: 4961
- 3: 2753
I like this story quite a bit, and I think it's a good example of how my writing style was developing from when I joined this site to where it is now (in late 2015). I do have problems with the pacing of some of the sentences and some of the words I chose to use - if I wrote this story today, the prose would look a lot different, but the story would be essentially the same. I am quite fond of the story and of Verlate's character. I think I portrayed a unique being and character arc on this wiki and did a good job at not only showing her own development, but the development of those around her, particularly with Sertung and Korin. Thematically, this story is subtler than I remembered, which makes it better, in my opinion. I also think that the humor I employed in chapter 3 was quite good. The imagery and descriptions were also better than I remembered. The stuff about the Damani culture was quite subtle and, if I'm being completely honest, my favorite part of the story. I think the world building present in this story and the stuff about the Kais is also beautifully-written in how subtle it is. As to if this story is better than Outbreak, I had to think about this for a while. After careful consideration, I have deemed Forever Alone to be slightly better than Outbreak, putting Outbreak in the eighth position of sagas and specials and Forever Alone in the seventh position (for neither special is better than any of the TF sagas). Overall, I'm quite pleased with this story. It's better than I remembered, better than I would have hoped, but it's not perfect. The prose shows the old KV style, but the plot, and the thematic stuff, and the passion is there. And that's why, even now, I can appreciate this old story and see it as something to be proud of.
<---- Part 29.6
Part 29.8 ---->