(Wil Wheaton and author John Scalzi hosted an amazing fanfic contest to benefit the Lupus foundation. I was fortunate enough to be present (and in the front row) for the unveiling of the infamous Unicorn Pegasus Kitten picture. The idea was to write a 400-2000 word fanfic explaining the picture.... so I got writing. Here is my submission.)
(Warning -- please do not point out any factual/grammatical/spelling/vocabulary errors.... I will have a complete nervous wreck if any come to my attention, since this was the final entry that I sent in... oh goddamnit I just saw one. *nervous wrecking commencing*).
Their universe was unraveling.
The sun and moon had abandoned the sky. The Earth quaked, slowly crumbling and collapsing into itself, pulling trees and homes into the abyss that now existed where Earth’s mantle should have been. The Noryanne Mountain, once a peaceful guardian to those who dwelled beside it, now roared and sputtered violently, choking on lava and ash. Smoke engulfed the heavens, and the glow of fire and magma stained everything a terrible, blood-rusted red. The screams that rose up from the town pierced the air like halberds, a symphony of tragedy that breached the walls of the royal throne room, where a single figure stood, taking a glance at his cell phone.
No bars... not that there’s anyone out there who could save us now....
As dust and bricks became dislodged and rained around him, the figure numbly pocketed his phone and looked around, taking in the destruction around him. Bile rose in his throat, his numb hands rolling slowly into fists, finger by finger. The screams scratched at his heart as he stared at the floor, not at the wreckage fallen from the castle ceiling, but beyond it. Littered across the stone surface, like clusters of islands over a vast sea of gray, were tatters of black fabric, torn, mutilated, violated like a child sold into slavery. He swallowed hard, looking up at the empty frame hanging crooked on the wall.
This painting had gone a millennia untouched...
“Do they realize what they’ve done?” he murmured quietly. He spoke to no one in particular, but was aware he was not alone. Standing a safe distance behind him, a lanky young knight stood watchful, his face twitchy and calculating as he surveyed the Lord and his castle.
“If you’re asking me, I would say that ‘they’ know perfectly well what they’ve done,” he muttered in a haughty voice, glancing down at his own cell phone with a frown.
“Sir Cooper,” the young lord snapped, forcing the other to stop and look up from his phone. “You are my chief strategist and advisor. Have you spoken to the head of guard? Someone must have seen something.”
“I’m sure someone did. Unfortunately none of them are still alive.”
The lord balked at this information, and returned his gaze to the floor. “There must be some hint, though!” he exclaimed with an edge of panic. “Something left behind to reveal the demon at fault! I mean, look at this!” He reached down and snatched up a handful of fabric, turning to the knight and waving it in his face as though to force him to smell it. “And then look outside! This icon existed to keep the balance of the world in check! It kept the fabric of time and space from unravelling! Everything is falling apart! How can you be so calm about it?!”
“As a matter of fact I’m not calm!” the knight squeaked, glancing down at his phone. “The town is gone, power is out, people are dead, and worst yet, Twitter is down!”
“And it’s all my fault...” the lord murmured darkly, hanging his head.
“Well, no, technically it’s the guards fault. They couldn’t stop whoever did this.” Sir Cooper pocketed his phone and crouched down, sifting through the scraps thoughtfully.
“I’m the sworn protector of it. It was my responsibility....” He sighed, and rubbed his eyes. “There must be some way for me to redeem myself... but how do you stop the end of the world?”
“You can’t... but you can take out those responsible.”
“But we don’t even know who...”
The lord turned, to see the knight standing before him, holding something in an outstretched hand. Perplexed, the young lord snatched the item away. He examined it carefully, and his face drained of color.
“It... can’t be...” he murmured. But the metal crest was unmistakable.
“It is the only explanation as to how it happened....”
Neither spoke, only the rumble of earthquakes and screams of civilians halting the onset of complete silence. The lord stared down at the shredded velvet painting. He couldn’t believe it. Betrayal stung, piercing his chest through his woven white armor. He hoped it wasn’t true. How could it be true? He would never...
Sir Cooper leaned towards him. “Clearly, they had been planning this for awhile... you know you were warned about their kind--”
“Where’s my family?” the lord snapped bitterly, interrupting him.
“They’re as safe as we could make them.”
With one last look at the damaged painting, the lord turned, and stormed past the knight, his hands tight fists at his side. “Tell them I love them, and ready my steed. I know what I must do.”
“Will do, sir,” the knight replied. He made to follow, but paused, glancing down at the velvet scraps scattered across the floor. A momentary smile touched his lips before he hastened after his master.
“Please! You can’t get yourself involved!”
“But we have a pact with them! They are our allies! Our neighbors! Our friends! We must do something!”
The Great Scalzi, head of the Scalzorcs, desperately struggled against the hold of two of his trusted guards. “I am your leader!” he snarled. “I order you to let me go!”
“Are you nuts?!” one guard cried, tugging so hard Scalzi’s glasses fell off. “You’re our leader! Our people need you! Don’t bother yourself with what you can’t fix! It’s out of our hands!”
Noryanne Mountain, towering before them, erupted more viciously, lava spilling over. Time had run out. Reluctantly, Scalzi turned and ran, the others following.
The Scalzorcs were indeed orcs, but they had long ago abandoned the savage ways of their race. They harbored peace, prosperity, would rather eat pig bacon than human flesh, rather play games than start wars. The Noryanne Mountain was all that separated them from the human kingdom, and the leaders before Scalzi had gone to great lengths to earn the trust of the Royal Family of Comedia. Consequently, he and the current lord of the kingdom, Wil the Just, had a valuable friendship. They were like brothers. Now that Scalzi ran from Comedia and its suffering, his heart hurt thinking of his friend.
Other Scalzorcs thought this was a natural disaster, a volcanic eruption, but Scalzi knew the truth.
The Velvet Wesley had been destroyed.
It was an icon of sacred importance. It existed to bind the universe together, maybe all universes that existed. Their universe was now falling apart around them. The loss of the icon was the only explanation.
After running nearly a league, a cry halted him.
“Lord Scalzi! Look!”
Scalzi turned, following the pointing finger of a young warrior toward the great mountain. Up in the red sky, he saw a familiar silhouette, winged and majestic. He knew it immediately.
It was Wil, approaching atop his Unicorn Pegasus Kitten, a creature bred solely for use by the Royal Family.
“Lord Wil!” Scalzi shouted in relieved exuberance, waving his arms above his head. He was grateful to see him alive, and felt hope, hope that they could now work together, and change the course of fate.
As the flying mount grew closer, Scalzi frowned. Something was very wrong. The human lord wore his battle armor, woven from impenetrable white fabric and bearing the Comedian crest. He clutched a golden spear, and without a battle helmet, the fury in his face was apparent even from a distance.
Scalzi knew right away why Wil was there.
“Scalzi!” the Comedian lord screamed once in earshot. “You betrayed me!”
Scalzi turned to the few Scalzorcs near him. “Get out of here!” he shouted desperately.
Lord Wil raced by, sweeping his spear and managing to catch the Scalzorcian king across the arm, slicing a deep gash.
“My Lord!” cried out one of his guards as the human shot back towards the sky.
“Just get out of here!” Scalzi spat, wrenching the sword and shield from his servant. “Take care of the people! That is an order!”
Reluctantly, his guard obeyed, shepherding the last of the Scalzorcs towards higher ground as Scalzi turned toward the approaching threat.
The volcano erupted violently as the beast raced toward him, Wil lifting his spear above his head. This time, Scalzi was ready. With all his strength, the human lord hurled his spear at the Scalzorc leader. It struck his shield, splintering it to pieces. As the winged beast sailed over Scalzi’s bald head, the Scalzorc launched his axe, catching the kitten in the stomach. With a wild, ferocious howl, the creature plunged to the ground with a mighty upheaval of ash and dust. Scalzi charged forward, unable to stifle concern for his friend. As the dust cleared, the Comedian rose, looming before him.
“You destroyed the Velvet Wesley! You have sentenced my family and kingdom to hell!”
“But, Wil, I--”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses!” the lord bellowed. “I’m going to kill you. I will kill you and I’ll make you watch!”
Wil’s eyes darted towards the fallen spear, and Scalzi’s followed. It lay equidistant away from either one of them... the only weapon either of them could get.
“What told you I did it?” Scalzi spat, holding his ground. “After all these years, after everything, how could you ever--”
“Shut up, you filthy orc! I know you and your mischievous tricks! This has gone too far!”
“Filthy... orc...?” Scalzi repeated, then bared his teeth. “FINE! BE MY GUEST!”
With matching cries of bloodlust, both leaders made their move toward the golden spear.
...but neither actually did. Neither could. Rage was replaced with confusion as they each glanced at their feet. It was as though the soles of their shoes had melted to the stone ground, trapping them.
They looked at each other.
A terrible roar deafened them, and they turned to see an enormous wall of ash, mud and flame. A pyroclastic flow, surging at them like a tsunami of Earth.
From a safe cliff, a lanky figure stood, smiling down on them casually. A dusty book rested in his hands, open to a page of ancient incantations. His eyes flickered dangerously as they caught the gaze of the panicked, trapped man that he’d once called master.
I guess revenge isn’t always best served cold, he thought with a widening smirk.
As the torrent of lava and Earth descended upon the two leaders, the knight read aloud from the book in twisted tongue, calling forth a long forgotten spell, one that would conjure a new icon elsewhere in time and space, weaving the universe back together. The chaos would end, and after the fall of the two great leaders, he, Sir Cooper, would be free to lay claim over this land. He would rebuild it in his image, and rule it mercilessly, as he always knew he would.
A universe away, an author named John Scalzi sat before his computer. He was hard at work, trying to meet a deadline when a notification blipped onto his screen, interrupting his thoughts. He glanced at it, and with a small exasperated sigh, clicked on it.
Oh, Wil. What are you sending me now? he wondered as he clicked an accompanying link. He scrolled through the page that appeared, leaning against his hand and cocking an eyebrow. It was a stupid velvet paintings website. He shook his head with a chuckle, and closed the window, both amused and annoyed by the interruption.
Not a minute passed before his typing fingers suddenly fell still. His eyes glazed over, staring through the computer screen. A strange feeling passed over him. A thought, an idea, appearing in his head out of nowhere, as though an invisible hand had reached through time and space, through his ear canal, and lodged it into his brain.
A mischievous grin stretched across his face.
It has to be done.
With a few clicks, he reopened the velvet paintings site, and then began an image search for the keywords “Wesley Crusher.”