Energy is a form of matter. Matter is a form of energy. Static. Radio transmission. A record plays the same groove over and over again. Over and over again. It's all a matter of slipping the right pieces back together in the right order. And forcing the ones that don't fit right.
Pull yourself together. Pull yourself together. The world swam around and all sense of identity felt lost. How many people was he? A million million faces, all stretching in a long march to oblivion circled around him. All stalking the abyss. Call to them, make them stop. Goddamn lemmings, every step is another
toward death. Even for those who refuse to move forward. You stop moving, the world just moves itself to compensate.
Outgrown your purpose. Flickerings of light all around. Golden. Red. Red. Golden. And another color. But can't speak the name. Can't admit the truth. Time is a circle but nobody wants to ever say that in case they meet themselves coming around the bend again. Coming around the mountain when they come. On Dasher.
Factor in sensation. Can't feel anything if you don't want to. Feel around, enlighten the senses. They can only thank you
in the end.
Stone floor. Cold. Old. Cracked, fingers threatening to slip down like so much melted butter. No control over the form, have to get it together. Wearing matter like a shell, like a cloak, like a guise. Don't sink into the floor, don't sink down into the darkness. Make the components work.
Gravity. Pressure. You need those. Make them work. Work for you. Heaviness, a giant great beast sitting on your back. On the floor. Hands and knees. That's right, remember the names, remember the anatomy. It's all there now. Vision resolving. Have to keep it all working. Can't say the name. Names have power. Why you don't have one. Because in the end you're just as powerful as everyone else.
Blink. Once. Twice. That's better. Seeing the floor you felt before. Seeing small lights at the edges of vision, flickering, flashing. Hurts the eyes but there's time to get
used to that. What happened? What's happening? The flicker of torches attached to mounts attached to grey stone cracked walls
as grey and stony and cracked as the floor. Monotony. In spades.
Try to remember who you are. Try to remember what happened. You know what you are, energy disguised as something it's not. Energy walking around acting like it had some right to live. Butthat's not the whole story. There's a name that goes with it. There's a name for everything. And you were disassociated and you put yourself back together and now you're here and you've got a name and you can't get any sense of what it is.
And then there's the soft tapping of boots on the unyielding floor and two sets of dark dark legs appear, the stance reflecting casual strolling, as if stopping along to ponder at something dead you might have found along the roadside.
And then it speaks the name.
"Hello, Agent," the voice says, oily and slick and rubbing against you like some grim elixir. There's faint amusement in the voice. "Or whatever insipid name you're calling yourself these days."
"Ah . . . I . . ." Agent Two found himself shifting all his senses back to the here and now, trying to take it all in at
once. His entire body felt like it had been strung from one end of the Universe to the others, with the pieces left dangling in the void for good measure. Even thinking hurt. ". . . ah . . . dammit!"
"Go on now, take your time, it'll all come back to you," the voice cooed mockingly. The boots and the legs they were attached to did an about face and marched to the other side of the room. "I'm sure you'll find the memory . . . interesting."
Agent Two closed his eyes tightly, just to get himself thinking. But his brain was full of shadows, just like the room. Even the torches seemed more for decoration. In the far corner
of the room he heard a rustling, like someone was sitting down.
"I was . . . taken . . ." he tried to say, finding that words were harder than they appeared. It was like relearning speech all over again, fortunately he was a fast learner. "Yeah, taken . . ." his voice growing stronger by the second. "I was taken . . . but . . ." and now his voice held confusion, "but
there aren't many people who can do that. And you don't sound as annoying as a Naxgul so you must be . . ." and by this time he had gotten to his knees, smoothing his robes out around his legs and was staring at the far corner of the room.
His face grew suddenly very pale. ". . . oh no," he finished. If he had a heart it would have stopped, but instead he just felt himself growing cold all over. This wasn't good at all. His thoughts swirled around again, trying to fit this new development into the scheme of things. He had to do something fast, the longer he delayed action, the worse the situation would become. Leaping to his feet in a blur of motion, his face registered anger and near rage. His hands were glowing red, almost flaming. It didn't bring anymore light to the room. "I'm going to give you one chance to send me back before I bring this whole place down around your ears."
His shouted, nearly snarled threat was met by only cool laughter. Two points of red light glistened in the darkness, but no other parts of the body could be seen. Perhaps it was all shadow. So much for the direct approach, Agent Two remarked silently.
"Really, Agent, if it makes you feel better knock the place down. Reduce it to ashes. I'll just rebuild it again and we can continue this conversation."
"No," Agent Two said simply. "I know what you want, you're trying to draw me out." He smiled thinly and his hands stopped glowing. "I'm not that dumb, I just tend to act that way sometimes. I'll just teleport away and we can continue this on my time." Still grinning, he seemed to draw into himself but
after a moment, the grin faded from his face. Something was wrong, terribly wrong.
"Having a problem, Agent?" the darkness asked him, but the question was rhetorical. "Can't seem to be your old self."
"What . . . what the hell did you do to me . . ." Agent Two whispered, his face shocked. His mind was racing. The only other beings that could do that to him were the Naxgul, he didn't think his kidnapper could do that. But then, really what were the limits?
"Magic," sneered the darkness.
"Damn you," Agent Two said almost too softly to hear. Trapped, it seemed. Then, louder, his face a contortion of pure anger, "Damn you!" just as his hands flared red again and briefly gold and energy crackled and leapt in the space between the two of them.
"Really now," the darkness said, its voice completely calm, "is that the kind of treatment I get?" It waved a hand almost lazily, causing a circle of even darker blackness to appear in front of it. The energy seemed to disappear right into it.
"I'm being nice, just because we go way back," Agent Two muttered, gritting his teeth and his hands became miniature suns, almost frightening away the shadows. The effort was probably futile, he knew, but there was nothing else he could do. He couldn't run and he sure as hell wasn't going to stand around and let stuff happen to him. He had lived too long for that.
"I'm not impressed," the darkness said coldly. Swiftly it stood up and walked right toward Agent Two, its feet barely making noise on the floor. The energy didn't even seem to affect it at all but that didn't stop Agent Two, who kept pouring it on right until the last second.
"True to type, regardless, it seems," said the darkness, and a fist slashed across, catching the Agent right in the face. His head flapped back and slammed right into the wall, bouncing off. The trajectory of his head was met by another fist and whirling he crashed to the floor. Something dislodged itself from his face and clattered on the ground.
The darkness bent down, sending light fleeing and picked up the small object. "Heh," it marveled, holding it up to the Agent, who was lifting his head painfully off the floor. "A tooth. You take your guises seriously now, don't you?" The darkness closed its hand and opened it again, showing only powder.
Agent Two was shaking, trying to get to his feet. His eyes seemed panicked now, almost frantic. The return of his clarity of thinking didn't seem to make him feel any better about the situation. "I'll . . . I'll . . . dammit . . ."
"I take it you want to hurt me, dear Agent," the darkness mocked. "Perhaps you're trying to contact your brother to make that little fantasy a stark reality. But you can't stand against me, Agent, your brother can't stand against me, the three of you gathered together in all your might would only serve to decimate the very area you seek to save."
"What . . . do you want . . . with me . . ." Agent Two responded, making a delibrate effort to speak slowly, to avoid
getting angry. Getting mad would serve him no good here, he was obviously outclassed. "What did you do to me?"
"Which question would you like me to answer first?" the darkness asked him. "No, don't bother answering, I'll satisfy your curiousity for you." The darkness stood up again, and the points of light glittered in the dark with malevolence. "What I did to you was something I had never bothered to do before.
You're made of energy, I simply interfered with it to the extent where it quite simply a matter of attracting you here. Though I did let you pull yourself together, I'm not going to do all the work for you."
"How kind," Agent Two replied dryly. "But I figured you did something like that," Agent Two replied, his voice stronger. He forced himself to one knee, staring at the darkness without blinking. "But I know there's a point to all this, isn't there. You've always got an angle." He was already running the possibilities through his head, once he had that figured, he'd be on his way to getting out of here. Safely.
"I have several points, Agent, most of which I'll leave you to find out on your own. I'll leave you with this utterly pleasant thought though, I'm behind everything that's going on here. Only nobody knows that, and they won't, until I see fit to tell them."
"Wrong there, bucko," Agent Two said with a smirk. "I'll tell everyone, we'll shut you down before you even have a chance to start." Not that he really believed that, but every second delayed bought him more time.
"Start? Oh no, Agent, I'm nearly finished. I highly doubt I'd be this open with you if you had any chance at all of stopping me. And you don't. Your temporary removal from the fray, has allowed my men to cause the right emotional buttons to be pressed. Humans can be so easily guided when you know what frightens and drives them. Love does and love is an easy thing to destroy."
"What are you . . ." the Agent started to say and then realization flooded his face. "Oh no. No. Mari . . ." and he
clenched himself tightly, a brief saddness seeming to overwhelm him. The memory of the last scattered moments he had been in the house tried to haunt him. If he had been faster, stronger, resisted more. Angerily, he pushed the thoughts out of his head. It wouldn't make any difference now. Not anymore.
"Even you aren't immune to it, I see," the darkness continued casually.
"I'll kill you for this," Agent Two rasped, his breathing harsh and loud in the otherwise silent room. The points of light
looked down on him dispassionately. "I swear I'll kill you. Nobody's done anything to you, they don't deserve-"
"I'd rather be the judge of that, thank you," the darkness said, grabbing the Agent by the robes and slamming him up against the wall like he was a bag of pure air. The Agent grimanced but said nothing else. "No, they don't deserve any of this. Except I don't care about that. And if they did anything to me, they'd be dead. Simple." The darkness seemed to smile at him, even as he struggled. "I'm ten steps ahead of you on every board, Agent, and this is only the beginning."
The Agent snarled again and two bright flared shot out of his eyes, catching the darkness right in the face. The darkness
seemed to recoil slightly as the entire room became flooded with light but then there was a similar burst of darkness and everything seemingly returned back to normal. Its grip on the Agent never loosened. It stared at him for a long time before speaking again.
"Clever," the darkness mused. "Pointless but clever. I imagine you realize you can't possibly teleport out of here. I imagine you know that I'm not going to let you just march right on back where you came and tell everyone I'm behind this."
The eyes seemed to laugh at him. "But what you probably can't imagine is what I'm going to do to you." Darkness started to envelop the Agent's face and there was the sound of something crackling. "When you get as old as I am, Agent, you learn some tricks. Think of this as a lesson long overdue."
The Agent managed one wrenching hoarse shout before he and his voice were swallowed by bleakest darkness.
Something laughed hollowly.