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HFTH - "Starcrossed Gods" Live Show



Content warnings for this episode include: Emotional Abuse, Violence, Blood, Emotional Manipulation, Body horror, Incineration




One Billion Years Ago: The Runaway

[Nikignik and Marolmar are alone together in the Workshop, a demiplane of Marolmar’s own design where he works on new creations. Currently, Marolmar hums as he works, and Nikignik sits idly staring at the sky].


Marolmar

*humming while looking over papers*


Nikignik

I want to run away.


Marolmar

*continues humming*


Nikignik

I said I want to run away.


Marolmar

I heard you.


Nikignik

Ah. You didn’t say anything. I thought you might have been… lost in thought.


Marolmar

I always hear you.


Nikignik

You just seem distant, sometimes.


Marolmar

I’m right here.


Nikignik

Your thoughts, I mean. You dream far away from me.


Marolmar

And that makes you want to run away?


Nikignik

Not from you. Never from you.


Marolmar

From what, then?


Nikignik

From my work. From watching the celestial gates of the Council of Heavens.


Marolmar

Mhm.


Nikignik

You hardly seem surprised.


Marolmar

That’s because I know you.


Nikignik

And you believe me to be a rebel?


Marolmar

I believe that you’d never do it.


Nikignik

Do what?


Marolmar

Leave the Council of Heavens. You’ve been their little watchdog for most of a billion years.


Nikignik

I am neither little nor watchdog.


Marolmar

You’ll be back there tomorrow, like you always are.


Nikignik

Maybe I won’t!


Marolmar

Because you are caught between two lives, Nikignik. And in one you sit beside the gates of eternity…


Nikignik

I could run away!


Marolmar

And in the other, you’re here with me. But it never lasts long. And to the gates you will always return.


Nikignik

I had no idea it bothered you.


Marolmar

It is hard to be with you.


Nikignik

Is it?


Marolmar

Knowing that every precious moment I get with you will be immediately followed by your absence.


Nikignik

It doesn’t have to be.


Marolmar

It will be. I know you. And you don’t have the power to tell them otherwise. No one does. They’ve commanded you to sit, and you must sit. I accept it. I’ll take these little moments in between. It’s better than nothing. At least this way I still get to see you.


Nikignik

*is quiet*


Marolmar

*sighs, goes back to looking over his work, begins to hum again*


Nikignik

I’m going to run away.


[Music in strong, cut to title credits].



750 Million Years Ago - The Surprise

[Nikignik and Marolmar, again in the workshop.]


Marolmar

Do you like it?


Nikignik

It’s beautiful.


Marolmar

Beautiful? Is that all you see?


Nikignik

And it’s very inventive?


Marolmar

You have no idea what you’re looking at, do you?


Nikignik

Not the foggiest. But if you crafted it then I think it is the best… thing of its kind ever to be created.


Marolmar

I suppose in this form it’s a bit hard to make out. But if you turn it like so…


Nikignik

Ahhhh.


Marolmar

It becomes a crown.


Nikignik

Ah. Yes.


Marolmar

You still don’t see it, do you?


Nikignik

Is it purely for artistic merit or does it have a function of some kind?


Marolmar

It’s designed to make insignificant things useful.


Nikignik

I hope it is not a gift for me.


Marolmar

You are not insignificant. You remember that star where we went for a walk among the solar flares?


Nikignik

I think it’s become a red giant by now.


Marolmar

The other one. Find it with your sight.


Nikignik

Oh yes. I see it.


Marolmar

Third planet out.


Nikignik

That’s a prolific quantity of volcanoes.


Marolmar

I suppose so.


Nikignik

And the poison clouds are spectacular.


Marolmar

I said third.


Nikignik

Oh. Yes. You meant the blue one. I see…. Oh no.


Marolmar

What?


Nikignik

It’s been infested.


Marolmar

Precisely.


Nikignik

It’s all green.


Marolmar

That would be algae.


Nikignik

There’s… worms in the water.


Marolmar

Fishes. Vertebrates.


Nikignik

This looks like a Lolgmololg sort of place.


Marolmar

It’s not. It hasn’t been catalogued yet.


Nikignik

By the Industry? I can see why not.


Marolmar

This one is mine.


Nikignik

Yours? Be serious.


Marolmar

*is quiet*


Nikignik

You are serious.


Marolmar

I need a space to work.


Nikignik

The private dimension of your workshop is not enough?


Marolmar

This is not a world, Nikignik. My workshop is a tomb.


Nikignik

I think it is lovely.


Marolmar

But it is not lively. It’s barren. A hole in reality I’ve scratched out so others don’t spy on me. The direction of my work now involves life.


Nikignik

That insignificant thing? Whatever for?


Marolmar

Life is my domain, Nikignik. Death, rebirth, life again. I’ve been cut off from it for too long.


Nikignik

Very well. I could ask Xyzikxyz if she can lend you one of her playthings.


Marolmar

No. You will tell no one of this.


Nikignik

Oh, Xyzikxyz? She is not like the rest of the Council, she…


Marolmar

But she is a part of the Council. The Reclaimer of Fire, who runs the entire Industry, who churns souls in his belly, sits at the head of that table. You cannot trust her.


Nikignik

Of course I can. She does not mind that I have abandoned my post. She has not told anyone where I have gone. She is my best friend outside of you.


Marolmar

Why do you need friends outside of me?


Nikignik

*is quiet*


Marolmar

I am not enough for you.


Nikignik

That is not how I think of it.


Marolmar

That is because you have a lot to learn, Nikignik.


Nikignik

I suppose I do.


*both silent for a moment*


Nikignik

So you wish to crown the algae? Raise it into mud warriors? Fight the entire Industry with a fleet of jawless fish?


Marolmar

I said nothing of fighting the Industry.


Nikignik

When the fish start composing their thoughts, the soul-forger will be there to begin collecting. It sounds to me as though you plan to defy him.


Marolmar

No one has the power to do that...


Nikignik

So it is settled then.


Marolmar

No one is that bloated from feeding on the fire of souls.


Nikignik

You should join the Council.


Marolmar

What? You think me another pretentious tyrant?


Nikignik

Not pretentious, but ambitious, and not a tyrant but a capable leader. If you are unhappy with the way that Syrensyr, Reclaimer of Fire manages his Industry of souls, then join the council. Make your voice heard there. Shape this universe for the better.


Marolmar

No.


Nikignik

You are brilliant, I am sure your ideas would be revolutionary for those dusty chambers.


Marolmar

I’ve already tried.


Nikignik

What?


Marolmar

They expelled me for voicing my concerns. This is what I am trying to tell you, Nikignik. They will only ever protect the existing order of things. There is no room in them for change.


Nikignik

I do not remember this.


Marolmar

It was before your time, before Xyzikxyz, before many of the younger gods.


Nikignik

Then perhaps you would find it different now. Perhaps you do not need to upset the order so much as gently alter it. There are new gods on the council, they would hear you gladly.


Marolmar

It is not in my nature, Nikignik. My work is about creation. Destruction. End. Beginning. If I tried to do the same thing, the same bureaucratic process aeon after aeon, I would go mad. That is all they will reward.


Nikignik

I have defied my nature to abandon my work at the gates, to join you. Could you not try again to do… whatever you are trying to do, without crowns and fish and green?


Marolmar

Maybe it would be best if you do not defy your nature.


Nikignik

What do you mean?


Marolmar

I need space to work, Nikignik.


Nikignik

I can give you space. I will go over to that dune of sand…


Marolmar

I need more.


Nikignik

That stony mountain.


Marolmar

More.


Nikignik

The green haze of the horizon.


Marolmar

Then you’d end up right back here, with how the space of my workshop functions.


Nikignik

I will go to a distant nebula.


Marolmar

Still I would feel your eyes on me.


Nikignik

Where then would you like me?


Marolmar

You mentioned that the Dreamer had called for you.


Nikignik

Zazzlezazz, Dreaming All That Is? What of him?


Marolmar

He wanted to teach you of his powers.


Nikignik

This is the real world, Marolmar. What need have I for dreams?


Marolmar

They could take your attention off me for a little while.


Nikignik

Do you really want me gone so?


Marolmar

I never want you gone. I just need a little space. To think. To work. When I am done, we will meet together and talk of all we’ve learned.


Nikignik

You are sure you do not just want to be rid of me?


Marolmar

I don’t think I could be rid of you if I wanted to.


Nikignik

You had best be sure of it.


Marolmar

Come see me in an aeon?


Nikignik

I will. I love you.


Marolmar

Tell the old universe-dreamer I said hello.


Nikignik

I love you.


Marolmar

You love someone who sends you away in such a way?


Nikignik

Always.



600 Million Years Ago - The Chance

[Nikignik meets with Xyzikxyz discreetly to talk about recent events.]


Xyzikxyz

So then Tolshotol said “you lay one finger on my sun and I’ll shine where the stars don’t dwell!”


Nikignik

He did not!


Xyzikxyz

He did.


Nikignik

And what did Ephelzeph say?


Xyzikxyz

Didn’t say much of anything, come to think of it. But there was a real awkward pause for a few years before the Reclaimer moved on to the next thing on the agenda.


Nikignik

Council meetings are as laborious as ever, it sounds to me.


Xyzikxyz

I guess this is all news to you, isn’t it? I forget that you’re not there to overhear these things anymore.


Nikignik

I hope they don’t ask you too often where I’ve gone.


Xyzikxyz

Actually you’ve barely come up. I’m not sure they’ve even noticed you’re gone.


Nikignik

Ah.


Xyzikxyz

…which means if you ever wanted to come back, I’m sure no one would mind.


Nikignik

Why would I want to do that?


Xyzikxyz

Well, when your little experiment is over.


Nikignik

Experiment.


Xyzikxyz

The ‘running away and finding yourself’ experiment. It’s a good thing! And when it’s done, my hypothesis is that you’ll be much more satisfied with your work.


Nikignik

It’s not an experiment.


Xyzikxyz

Oh?


Nikignik

I’m not just testing this out. I’ve left my stewardship of the gates. A pointless stewardship at that; when the gates are closed no god can enter or leave. What need have they of guards? I belong by Marolmar’s side. I am serious about this.


Xyzikxyz

Well of course you are.


Nikignik

I am never going back.


Xyzikxyz

I’m sure you aren’t.


Nikignik

Why are you doing that?


Xyzikxyz

What?


Nikignik

Agreeing with me and disagreeing at the same time. Is that something new you’ve invented?


Xyzikxyz

Do you like it? I call it ‘patronizing’.


Nikignik

Well stop doing it. You’re my friend, you don’t need to mince words around me. Share what you really think. You always have.


Xyzikxyz

I don’t think you’ll like what I have to say.


Nikignik

Let me be the judge of that.


Xyzikxyz

I think Marolmar is bad for you.


Nikignik

You were right.


Xyzikxyz

I think he’s pulled you away from us.


Nikignik

Us? As in, you and the Council of Heavens?


Xyzikxyz

Everyone.


Nikignik

I always wanted to go.


Xyzikxyz

I don’t think you even…


Nikignik

Always. I have never been happy sitting. Waiting. Watching for threats that never come, too thankless to ever be invited in to join the circle. I thought you of all people would understand.


Xyzikxyz

We all find our place, Nikignik. No one gets to chase their dream without making it useful to the system somehow. We live in a universe where the Reclaimer of the Fire of Souls owns every world. We live in a universe where Who Guards A Thousand Suns owns every star. And you have to accept those things if you’re going to make a place for yourself to belong.


Nikignik

Leave it to the Emptiness Between Worlds to pick up the scraps.


Xyzikxyz

Watch yourself.


Nikignik

I have made a place for myself. I am happy for the first time that I can remember since the Orchard, and I am only asking for you to be happy for me.


Xyzikxyz

I am happy for you.


Nikignik

You’re doing it again.


Xyzikxyz

I can’t turn it off now that I’ve started.


Nikignik

You are wrong about him. You will see.


Xyzikxyz

I hope I am, Nikignik. I hope I am.



550 Million Years Ago - The Homecoming

[Nikignik returns home to the Workshop from his studies with Zazzlezazz.]


Nikignik

Guess who’s home!


Marolmar

A Great Destroyer with a million teeth.


Nikignik

Warm.


Marolmar

An Outsider that would melt your very being to behold?


Nikignik

Warmer.


Marolmar

Is it my beautiful, ethereal love back from learning all about the power of dream?


Nikignik

Supvernova!


Marolmar

Welcome home my dear.


Nikignik

You’ve certainly spruced up the place.


Marolmar

Don’t let it deceive you, it was a mess until last century. I’ve been picking scrap out of places I didn’t know existed.


Nikignik

All that effort for little old me.


Marolmar

A clean workspace is important for clean work.


Nikignik

Well I hope you can postpone your mighty projects a little. I have a surprise for you.


Marolmar

Oh? What could that be?


Nikignik

Close your eyes.


Marolmar

Which ones?


Nikignik

All of them.


Marolmar

Alright.


Nikignik

I said all of them.


Marolmar

I’m doing it, I’m doing it.


Nikignik

Good. Now fall asleep.


Marolmar

*chuckles*

I don’t dream, Nikignik. Not in a million strange aeons have I dreamed.


Nikignik

Well, there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there? Here. I’ll help.


*Nikignik reaches out, and puts Marolmar to sleep. In dream, they hover in weightless darkness.*


Marolmar

What is this? Where are we?


Nikignik

We are still sitting in the workshop. But your mind dreams. Isn’t it freeing? Let me guide it.


Marolmar

I can’t see. There’s only darkness. What if they come to the workshop. What if they come knocking…


Nikignik

No one will knock. Just relax.


Marolmar

I don’t like being disconnected like this, Nikignik, I can not. They could be creeping up even now…


Nikignik

Please just give this a chance, I…


*A whoosh, and a moment of silence. Both sit back in the Workshop.*


Nikignik

You woke up.


Marolmar

I’m sorry.


Nikignik

It’s alright.


Marolmar

You should have warned me. Is that what dreaming is like?


Nikignik

I’m so sorry. Most would find it relaxing.


Marolmar

I’ve no idea how.


Nikignik

You can go anywhere, do anything. It’s… freeing.


Marolmar

I need to be in control, Nikignik. Or things might get out of hand. Tolshotol Who Guards A Thousand Sons does not sleep. The Industry does not sleep. And I cannot sleep either.


Nikignik


Marolmar

I ruined your gift.


Nikignik

It was my fault. I should have warned you.


Marolmar

No, no, it can’t be ruined. Here. Tell me what I would have seen. What would I have dreamed?


Nikignik

Well… you would have dreamt of us.


Marolmar

I can see us with my mind’s eye.


Nikignik

In the Orchard at the center of the universe. As young gods, barely born.


Marolmar

I did not know you then.


Nikignik

That is why it is a dream. I wish you had. We could have roamed the gardens of starlight together, and danced beneath the early groves. Without machines, without enemies. Only each other and an infinite number of questions to ask about the universe brand new before our eyes.


Marolmar

Like how does one create a black hole and what lies within?


Nikignik

Who gave the great beings of the Council their domains?


Marolmar

Does eternity function for the Outsiders as the end of time does for us?


Nikignik

Who made the Great Destroyers to feast on desolate asteroids?


Marolmar

Why can’t I ever love you the way you deserve?


Nikignik


Well I do not know that they would have talked of that one in the Orchard.


Marolmar

No, they did not.


Nikignik

But the answer is that you already do.


Marolmar

I don’t.


Nikignik

Love me?


Marolmar

Not the way you need. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Nikignik. You look at me with so much… yearning.


Nikignik

You would too, if you saw what I saw.


Marolmar

Which is what?


Nikignik

I see a sight beyond splendor. Stars are in the overgrown boughs of your antlers. Thoughts like gemstones shine in your mind, waiting to materialize. You care about the smallest things in this universe—those earth things. The green. You find beauty in them. The way you find beauty in me.


Marolmar

I see someone cursed.


Nikignik

Me?


Marolmar

Me.


Nikignik

Genius is a heavy burden to bear.


Marolmar

I am a lord of change, Nikignik. Not of destruction, not of creation. I am of the transformation and the cycle and the upheaval. I wish I could be like you. Endlessly happy in one place. But I fear I am always moving on too quickly for you. I’m never happy where I am.


Nikignik

Not even when you are beside me?


Marolmar

I am, for a time. But even now my mind wanders without me. Back to my work.


Nikignik

It is part of your nature. It is part of why I love you.


Marolmar

It troubles you.


Nikignik

It is part of why I think you would do well on the Council of Heavens.


Marolmar

…this again.


Nikignik

Come now, it has been two hundred million years since I last brought it up. It has changed since your time there.


Marolmar

Do Syrensyr and Tolshotol still rule it?


Nikignik

No one rules the council… but yes, they still attend.


Marolmar

Then it has not changed enough.


Nikignik

Xyzikxyz is there. There are younger gods now. I believe they would accept you. That you could help them to accept… change.


Marolmar

What are you asking of me?


Nikignik

Only that you meet my friend Xyzikxyz. For a walk somewhere in the stars. Revisit the Orchard maybe.


Marolmar

An intervention.


Nikignik

A conversation. I just wish her to see why I love you so. I know she would appreciate your talents if she only knew you.


Marolmar

Is that something you see, or something you dream?


Nikignik

Both, my dear. Both.



525 Million Years Ago - The Meeting

[Nikignik and Marolmar arrive late to the Orchard at the Center of yhe Universe for a meeting with Xyzikxyz].


Xyzikxyz

You really kept me waiting this time, Nik. I have experiments wilting as we… oh.


Nikignik

We are sorry to keep you! Leaving the Workshop is always such a struggle for some of us. You understand.


Xyzikxyz

We.


Marolmar

Us.


Nikignik

Xyzikxyz, this is Marolmar, Garden Of The End. My dear, this is Xyzikxyz, Emptiness Between Worlds.


Xyzikxyz

You didn’t mention he was coming.


Marolmar

He did not mention you would be here either.


Nikignik

I wanted it to be a surprise.


…so. Xyzikxyz, working on any fun experiments lately?


Xyzikxyz

Is that the only way you know how to start a conversation with me?


Nikignik

You always have something to say.


Xyzikxyz

I do it in confidence.


Marolmar

It was lovely meeting you, Emptiness, but I should return to my work.


Xyzikxyz

No, I’m sure you two were planning a nice stroll through the Orchard. I have experiments that are dying to see me anyways.


Nikignik

I really wish you…


Marolmar

Likewise, a number of my projects are living, and probably wasting away as we speak.


Xyzikxyz

They do tend towards that, don’t they? So annoying. I’m trying to feed a little asteroid planet into a black hole, but my subjects can never keep it together. When it works the results will be quite intriguing.


Marolmar

…simply out of curiosity, why would you do that?


Xyzikxyz

Simply out of curiosity.


Marolmar

I see.


Xyzikxyz

And because I want to see how much of a living organism you can deteriorate before it no longer becomes itself. As the black hole warps their molecules, their perception of reality shifts. As does my perception of them.


Marolmar

The perception shifts to ‘dead’, I imagine.


Xyzikxyz

It always does, eventually.


Marolmar

I disagree.


Nikignik

It’s lovely out today isn’t it? The fields of starlight, the tree at the center of the universe blooming with leaves of new nebulas…


Marolmar

Life and death are not on and off states.


Xyzikxyz

My asteroid project would beg to differ.


Nikignik

Is destroying a world—even an asteroid one—permissible by the Council these days?


Xyzikxyz

It’s so small that only a single demon could manage all the souls on it… it’s not worth the Industry’s effort. And it doesn’t orbit a star, so Tolshotol gives me a pass.


Marolmar

Sad that you must bargain with them to make your discoveries.


Xyzikxyz

I tell them what I am going to do. Sometimes they are gracious about it.


Nikignik

Sometimes.


Marolmar

You don’t find they hold you back?


Xyzikxyz

I respect the work they do. It’s monotonous. Stable. Creates a control for my experiments. But the universe is always changing, opening up new doors, shining new lights. I want to be at the forefront of that.


Marolmar

I think we are alike in that.


Nikignik

And you both have a dry sense of humor!


Xyzikxyz

What projects are you working on?


Marolmar

Secret ones.


Xyzikxyz

Naturally.


Marolmar

And secrets, by definition, are not widely shared.


Xyzikxyz

For now.


Nikignik

Oh come now, Marolmar. Give us a little preview at least.


Marolmar

I suppose I could oblige you with a demonstration.


Nikignik

Oh yes! A demonstration.


Marolmar

Very well. Follow me to a world of mud.


Xyzikxyz

I’m intrigued. I love mud.


Nikignik

Mm. Here we are. Marolmar and I used to come here all the time for a little quiet scenery. There’s a lot of water to hover over the surface of.


Xyzikxyz

You’re sure this isn’t a Lolg-mo-lolg place?


Nikignik

That’s what I said.


Marolmar

As you can see, green stuff. Fish. A barren world.


Xyzikxyz

I don’t usually use life this simple for experiments. It dies too quickly.


Marolmar

Now watch as I reach out my hand over the water…


*Marolmar cuts open his palm*


Nikignik

Be careful! You’re hurting yourself.


Marolmar

It is only a drop of blood, Nikignik.


*It plinks into the water, and the ocean begins to seethe*


Xyzikxyz

Oh my. Oh goodness!


Nikignik

What am I looking at? What did you do to them?


Marolmar

It is an explosion of life. One form becomes a thousand. Art and nature intertwined, sculpting bone and chitin and frond into new shapes.


Xyzikxyz

And your blood does that?


Marolmar

I’ve made some alterations.


Nikignik

They’re turning different shapes. That one is a spiral. Are you sure they’re going to be alright?


Marolmar

It was only a drop, my friends. Its effects will wear off soon enough.


Xyzikxyz

What a marvelous demonstration. I would love to hear all about how you came up with this…


Marolmar

I suppose my projects can wait for a few more centuries. If it is alright with you, Nik.


Nikignik

Nothing would make me happier.


Xyzikxyz

Excellent. Take a look at this; I’ve made a device that lets you listen to songs yet to be written. It’ll be useless at the end of time, but right now there’s so much to choose from…



524 Million Years Ago - The Breaking


[Marolmar and Nikignik return home after a millennia-long afternoon with Xyzikxyz.]


Nikignik

*humming*

Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars…


Marolmar

You’re cheerful.


Nikignik

Well, the song Xyzikxyz showed us was nice. It makes me think of you. And I think that went well.


Marolmar

Oh? Why is that?


Nikignik

You two talked for the better part of a million years. I admit, I tuned out after a little while, you lost me somewhere around the amino acids…


Marolmar

You should learn to appreciate life, Nikignik. Existence. Time. All those little things. You have an infinity of eyes, I would expect you to take an interest in more than just the rocks.


Nikignik

Why would I when all my eyes can be here beholding you?


Marolmar

You used to tell me stories about them. Little things growing on little worlds.


Nikignik

Well if you liked them I can tell you more.


Marolmar

Not right now.


Nikignik

Naturally.


Marolmar

I’m busy. There is much to catch up on, now.


Nikignik

Will you consider it?


Marolmar

Consider what?


Nikignik

Joining the Council of Heavens.


Marolmar

…is that what all this was about?


Nikignik

No! …not entirely.


Marolmar

But more so than not.


Nikignik

You seemed to like her so. You have so much in common, I think you would be…


Marolmar

We have nothing in common.


Nikignik

I thought you liked her.


Marolmar

There are very few people I like. Most of them are barely tolerable for short periods.


Nikignik

You talked to her for almost a million years.


Marolmar

I forget sometimes that you are a younger god than I am.


Nikignik

So do I, when you behave this way.


Marolmar

Which way?


Nikignik

How can you profess to be a lord of change and yet be so beholden to your grudges and your work…


Marolmar

Nikignik.


Nikignik

And any time a chance for your life to be different comes along, you let it wither before it ever has the chance to grow…


Marolmar

Nikignik.


Nikignik

What.


Marolmar

Are you finished?


Nikignik

I have barely begun.


Marolmar

I will not be the means by which you claw your way back to the Council’s good graces. If you want their attention so badly, go join them yourself.


Nikignik

Their attention?


Marolmar

I understand it must be difficult for you when I am busy with my work so often, and it is so important, and you are so…


Nikignik

What am I? Speak.


Marolmar

Demanding.


Nikignik

There it is.


Marolmar

For one who has eyes across this universe, you cannot live without all eyes on you.


Nikignik

You think that is what this is? That I crave their love like some starved animal?


Marolmar

You are the one who said it.


Nikignik

I am doing this because I am afraid!


Marolmar

….

Of what.


Nikignik

Of what they could do. Not that they ever would, but… all this talk of upsetting the order of things. It frightens me. I know you see in your mind’s eye, you dream of a universe of evolving life and emerald light, free of the grasp of the Industry, free of the guardian of suns, free to be whatever it will become on its own. But they will never allow that. You know they will not. And I hoped were you at the table you might be able to reach a compromise.


Marolmar

So you wish to destroy the integrity of my work.


Nikignik

I said nothing like that.


Marolmar

That is what you have described.


Nikignik

I love your work.


Marolmar

Do you love me?


Nikignik

Yes! Of course I do!


Marolmar

Then leave me alone a while. I need space, Nikignik. Space to breathe. And to think.


Nikignik

…am I that intolerable to you?


Marolmar

Nikignik.


Nikignik

I could be quiet. I can stay in the corner of your shop, a shadow beneath the stone, and…. I do not want to be sent away again.


Marolmar

Nikignik. Please.


Nikignik

I am sorry.


You are right. As always.


Call me when you want me again.


Marolmar

I will.


Nikignik

Do not hesitate.


Marolmar

I will not. Goodbye.


Nikignik

I will see you soon.



200 Million Years Ago - The Warning

[Nikignik meets with Xyzikxyz to talk relationship troubles.]


Nikignik

And I do not know. Our last talk ended so… strangely.


Xyzikxyz

Mhm.


Nikignik

And I am not sure now how I feel or what to do. I am in agony, Xyzikxyz.


Xyzikxyz

Mhm.


Nikignik

You’re doing a different thing now. It’s not patronizing, it’s something else. You’re agreeing but concealing your thoughts.


Xyzikxyz

I call this one supporting a friend.


Nikignik

I don’t need support. I feel as though I am in freefall with nothing to grab onto. Or one of your poor experiments, with a black hole distorting me piece by piece. My mind is dissolving. Will you not help me?


Xyzikxyz

Help you?


Nikignik

With your guidance. You always have wisdom to share.


Xyzikxyz

I can tell you how hot the core of a red giant is. Or how to make wings that work in space. How to talk to an Outsider without going mad. But I cannot tell you how to feel.


Nikignik

What should I do?


Xyzikxyz

Do you want a wing to weep on, or my advice?


Nikignik

I do not weep.


Xyzikxyz

You’ll like it better than the advice.


Nikignik

You said this last time. Try me.


Xyzikxyz

You should break up.


Nikignik

You were right. Again. I thought you liked Marolmar, you two talked about science.


Xyzikxyz

He’s not a scientist.


Nikignik

Well, he’s an artist, really. An inventor. What’s the difference.


Xyzikxyz

He’s a tyrant.


Nikignik

You work with tyrants all the time. Surely he is not worse than the Industry.


Xyzikxyz

I do my experiments because I love understanding. We live in a universe full of unanswered questions, and I can solve them one stage at a time. Those are my prize. But Marolmar is doing this for a reason. He has an agenda. What I learn, I share for us all to know. What he learns, he uses for power.


Nikignik

Well that is just called having aspirations. He is ambitious.


Xyzikxyz

He is dangerous.


Nikignik

Dangerous. To who?


Xyzikxyz

To anyone who gets in his way.


Nikignik

Then for all your advanced perceptions of reality, you have misjudged him.


Xyzikxyz

Or perhaps, for all your hundred eyes, your sight is clouded.


Nikignik

I know who he is. He is creative and sweet and caring. He only wants to change the order of things because he cares about this universe. And he knows under the Industry it will suffocate well before its time.


Xyzikxyz

Oh yes. He wants to suffocate it himself. So much better.


Nikignik

Does his work intimidate you? Is that it?


Xyzikxyz

I’m never intimidated.


Nikignik

That for so long you’ve been the only purveyor of grand universal secrets…


Xyzikxyz

I trust my intuition. I don’t like him.


Nikignik

At the center of him there is a loving heart. You just have to see it.


Xyzikxyz

I’m sure he wants you to believe so.


Nikignik

What?


Xyzikxyz

I don’t think he wants what’s best for you, Nik. I really don’t.


Nikignik

You would presume to know what is best for me.


Xyzikxyz

Is he your soul mate, Nikignik? Or is he just luring you away from your job long enough to attack the Council of Heavens?


Nikignik

*chuckles*

What?


Xyzikxyz

You said he called to you. He lured you away from us. Away from me.


Nikignik

It was me. I wanted to run away. I’ve always wanted to, deep down.


Xyzikxyz

Would you have? If Marolmar had never called, would the Gates of Eternity still be empty?


Nikignik

….


Xyzikxyz

I miss you. I miss having a friend in the Council.


Nikignik

I was never part of the Council. They left me at the door like an animal.


Xyzikxyz

You had a job. A bad job, but still a job. And I am trying my best to make everything better. It is twice as hard now that you’ve left.


Nikignik

I have never gone far.


Xyzikxyz

It feels like it. And the gates remain unguarded.


Nikignik

Someone else can watch them.


Xyzikxyz

Who? Who else is there?


Nikignik

Someone who would be happy sitting there for eternity, waiting for change that will never come.


Xyzikxyz

This is my life’s work.


Nikignik

Some life.


Xyzikxyz

Excuse me?


Nikignik

You wouldn’t understand what love is. What it means to act out of passion instead of some cold analysis. You have never felt anything you did not take eight layers of magnification to, plucked apart until it stopped twitching. You are as cold as the vacuum between stars. How could you ever understand.


Xyzikxyz

I’m leaving.


Nikignik

Are you frightened of the truth?


Xyzikxyz

I think you are. You’re being unreasonable.


Nikignik

Yes. I am unreasonable. I am driven by emotion and you cannot fathom it.


Xyzikxyz

For what it’s worth…


Nikignik

What.


Xyzikxyz

I hope you still consider me a friend. When all of this is over.


Nikignik

It will never be over.


Xyzikxyz

They say nothing lasts forever, Nikignik. And they’re right. Nothingness is the only thing that does.



50 Million Years Ago - The Surprise, Reprised

[Nikignik returns to Marolmar’s workshop after a long absence, and Marolmar shows off what he’s created.]


Marolmar

Close your eyes.


Nikignik

I am closing them.


Marolmar

All of them.


Nikignik

Alright. I am simply so excited. What is the surprise?


Marolmar

You will see. And… now. You can open them now.


Nikignik

Oh! It’s beautiful. Some kind of sculpture?


Marolmar

It’s my heart, Nikignik.


Nikignik

You don’t have a heart. You’re a boundless, immaterial god.


Marolmar

I do, believe it or not. And it belongs to you.


Nikignik

Does it really?


Marolmar

I know I don’t deserve you.


Nikignik

On the contrary.


Marolmar

The thoughtfulness, the attention…


Nikignik

You’re acting awfully soft.


Marolmar

I’ve never had someone to watch out for me before. Ever since I woke up in the orchard, I’ve been running. From Great Destroyers looking to feast on small gods, from the reach of the Industry. I wanted to run far away, away from every problem, away from everyone who could ever hurt me. Because everything I am could tear apart the heavens.


Nikignik

I know.


Marolmar

And for the first time, I have someone on my side. Someone who’s always there. Someone I can trust. That’s hard for me to believe, sometimes. And I don’t always know how to handle you gracefully.


Nikignik

I will always be by your side, if you let me.


Marolmar

Please never leave.


Nikignik

I won’t. I love you.


Marolmar

I love you too. And I can’t wait to spend the new age with you.


Nikignik

…the what?


Marolmar

You know my creations are never just aesthetic.


Nikignik

I am afraid to ask what this one does.


Marolmar

Not much, by itself. But placed across a few thousand worlds…


Nikignik

Your little blue one is coming along. They’ve learned to walk.


Marolmar

It’s going to fix everything.


Nikignik

You’ve made peace with the Council?


Marolmar

I’m going to end the Council.


Nikignik

…oh.


Marolmar

This heart creates blood, Nikignik. And that blood will fill a world with incredible new life…


Nikignik

More life for the Industry to harvest?


Marolmar

Life that is useless to him. My blood burns thusly.


*Snaps his fingers, produces a flame*


Nikignik

It burns green.


Marolmar

The fire of souls, altered forever, changed beyond use. Free.


Nikignik

I am trying to understand the purpose.


Marolmar

Let the fire spread, Nikignik. Wherever life carries it, from one world to the next. It will spread like a wildfire in the grove.


Nikignik

And then what?


Marolmar

The old parasite starves. The universe is forever free of him. And without him, the Council collapses.


Nikignik

You cannot be serious.


Marolmar

What about me suggests otherwise?


Nikignik

Surely you would not kill one of our friends.


Marolmar

The world-burner is not our friend. He is a tyrant.


Nikignik

Would you not simply become the next?


Marolmar

…no. I am not a jealous god. I have no need to rule. Only to create.


Nikignik

What are all of these things?


Marolmar

They go together. Three keys, three doors, three crowns. Insurance.


Nikignik

Insurance for what?


Marolmar

In case something happens to me. The heart will run of its own accord. My workshop will burn with my energy for a billion years at least. I will admit, I had hoped you would be more excited about getting to see my work.


Nikignik

I am not excited. I am concerned.


Marolmar

This is our salvation, Nikignik. A universe freed from an iron grasp. One where you and I can be together, without fear. With no one to divide us or tear us apart.


Nikignik

You do not need to create that universe. It is already here.


Marolmar

No, not quite. But soon.


Nikignik

What are you planning?


Marolmar

That little blue world is a start. A test, if you will. A beautiful beginning. Come, Nikignik. I have things to set in motion. Let me show you how it works.



150 Thousand Years Ago - The End

[Marolmar and Nikignik in the workshop as Marolmar finishes his project.]


Nikignik

I want to run away.


Marolmar

*humming fly me to the moon*


Nikignik

We could run away.


Marolmar

*looks up*

That is the difference between us Nikignik.


Nikignik

We could go far, far away from all of this. Leave the universe behind. There have to be others out there.


Marolmar

None in our reach. None but the one we make.


Nikignik

We could have a quiet life together. Just you and I. Would that not be enough for you?


Marolmar

It is not fair to ask me that question.


Nikignik

Because I may not like the answer?


Marolmar

Because I can want you and also want all that is my nature.

I am the Garden of the End.

Life, Death and Rebirth.

The changing of the age, the turning wheel, the spirit of the spring.


Nikignik

I know all your names.


Marolmar

Then do you not know me? Look at this universe, Nikignik, with all your eyes. It is stagnant. Routine.


Nikignik

New worlds form all the time.


Marolmar

And are seized by the Industry. I will never be content until the order is fixed. And in a universe of green fire, we can run free together.


Nikignik

Will you finally be done with your work, after that?


Marolmar

Yes. It has all been for this.


Nikignik

…I need you to promise me. That if you go through with this, we will be done with the Workshop. Done with the long hours. That we can spend eternity together instead of forcing ourselves apart.


Marolmar

I promise.


Nikignik

Then I believe in you. I will help you see it through.


Marolmar

Good. There is not much left to do. I will take my heart to the little blue planet, and run my first test. If it goes well, then this will all be over soon.


Nikignik

Would you like me to join you?


Marolmar

I would not mind.


Xyzikxyz

Nikignik?


Nikignik

On the contrary, my dear, I hear my friend Xyzikxyz calling…


Marolmar

She cannot enter the workshop. She cannot see this.


Nikignik

Well. How about I go speak with her, and keep her distracted a little while you get this going.


Marolmar

Good. Then I will see you soon. I’ll be back in a moment.


Nikignik

See you… soon.


*Marolmar departs for Earth, with the heart in tow*


Nikignik

Xyzikxyz, what is the matter? You rarely sound so distraught.


Xyzikxyz

Come quickly. There is not much time.


Nikignik

I follow, but where are we going? I can look ahead…


Xyzikxyz

Keep your attention on me, Nikignik.


Nikignik

I am. Are we… at the Gates of Eternity?


Xyzikxyz

The gates to the Council of Heavens, yes.


Nikignik

If you have taken it upon yourself to reinstate me, I will not go.


Xyzikxyz

Just come inside. You need to hear what they have to say.


Nikignik

They… wish me to go inside?


Xyzikxyz

Yes. I know, it’s a big deal. You’re welcome. Just hurry.


Nikignik

I never thought I would get the chance. Very well.



Xyzikxyz? It is empty.


Xyzikxyz

Yes, it is. And it’s also very, very secure.


Nikignik

I’m not sure I… what are you doing? Xyzikxyz, you’ve shut the doors.


Xyzikxyz

Please stay here.


Nikignik

Xyz, I do not understand. What is going on?


Xyzikxyz

I’m sorry. I really am.


Nikignik

You have shut me in, why would you do this? Let me out. I can still see you standing there on the other side of the door. I can still see everywhere. Let me away.


Xyzikxyz

This is only for a moment. I had to keep you out of harm’s way. I don’t want you getting caught in the crossfire, and knowing you, that’s exactly where you’d be.


Nikignik

The crossfire?


Xyzikxyz

I am so, so sorry. They were going to kill you too.


Nikignik

Xyzikxyz, please tell me what is happening and I can…


Marolmar

*A million miles away, talking to the Industry as it arrives to fight him*

You’re too late, soul-burner.


Nikignik

No.


Xyzikxyz

Don’t look, Nikignik.


Marolmar

You think you have come here to put an end to me?


Nikignik

Marolmar walks across a field of ice, and the sky darkens and turns to brimstone.


Xyzikxyz

Don’t watch.


Marolmar

I am neverending.


Nikignik

The Industry descends, the fire that burns in its belly roils, and a thousand demons pour forth from heaven. The sun shines blood red, and Tolshotol steps forth from it, claws and teeth and eyes burning with the heat of a thousand suns…


Xyzikxyz

Look away. Please.


Marolmar

And the fire that burns in me will never end…


Nikignik

You knew, you knew and still they…


*a million light years away, Tolshotol’s Light Of All Days burns bright, and Marolmar is reduced to atomic particles*


Marolmar

*a scream that echoes throughout the heavens*


Nikignik

No!


No no no no no!


Xyzikxyz

Nik? I… I’m going to open the doors now. It’s alright. It’s finished.


*Nikignik weeps*


*grows quiet, slumps against the door*


Nikignik

Marolmar.


He is gone.


Xyzikxyz

I’m sorry. I really am.


Nikignik

….


Xyzikxyz

I’ll leave you alone a little while. If you need anything, I’ll be there, alright?


Nikignik

*Silent. After a long while, seconds or centuries, begins a sad hum that grows into a quiet song*


Fly me to the moon

Let me play among the stars

Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars

In other words, hold my hand

In other words, baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song

And let me sing for ever more

You are all I long for

All I worship and adore

In other words, please be true

In other words, I love…


[Cut to end titles].


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