Chapter 14:

Muzhi and Kallan

FICTION: If you held the power of god in your two hands, would you save the world? Would you doom it? Or would you watch from the sidelines, just as you had done before?

The human form.

At the turn of the 22nd century, people began to despise the human form. Advancements in the real world, and in infrastructure slowly came to a halt as the virtual plane evolved into a hostile takeover of urban culture for the youthful generations. Sure, cosmetic enhancements had improved considerably in the last fifty years, but it was no match for the sheer abstract, unrestricted freedom of feeling and expression that one could experience on the web. As if it was its own nation, with its own prideful race of unique citizens, many sought to abandon their traditional lives; their boring, human form which they had been forced to inhabit in lue of the freedom of virtual reality.

Even those who preferred to walk outside and touch grass; they were quite reliant on their AR implants to both practically assist them, and spice up the mundane world, which was slowly dying.

But this was an inevitability of giving humans freedom of expression. In its most pure form, the human consciousness craved what was just out of reach. For the mind to stretch its arms outside of its own physical form, disappointed with thy meticulous form and function of the human body; angels, demons, humanoid monsters, and all of the fantastical creatures which have been depicted throughout history; well, they are no less than a result of that desire.

That desire to add to the human form.

Tattoos. Piercings. Cosmetic surgery. Practical modifications. Cybernetic integration. The list goes on.

I could not explain properly to you how the powers of the ten Chosen worked; but what hadn’t surprised me even for a moment was the discovery that our physical forms gradually began to take on irregular forms. While some feel a bit more out there, others are fairly straightforward. But it’s clear that they each differ based on the mindset of the Chosen themselves.

The Record has an extra set of arms, with a creepy little eyeball plopped right in the center of each of his hands. He uses them to read four-times as many books.

The Ego has big, long devilish horns. They actually look a little bit cool.

The Chaotic has a fluffy, feathery set of angelic wings, as if they were pulled directly from a religious text.

The Seed literally just has a massive tool. How stupid is that?

Even the humanlike growth of The Savior is just a byproduct of her desire to age physically. But in all reality, she’s immortal, you know? Doesn’t that seem weird to you?

And well, it’s the opposite in my case. I ceased to age, or change one bit since I first awakened to my godhood. You could say that I’m the only one who’s barely changed at all.

Except, well…

It’s funny, right? My eight-ball eyes. Don’t ask about them, because I’d know as little as you do about it. Perhaps there’s some sort of metaphorical meaning behind them, which the author thought he was oh-so-clever for including in my character’s design.

Well, I don’t like to think of things through that lens though. The more I do, the more pointless everything begins to feel. In the very least, I’m sure that you must find the idea a little interesting.

Eight-ball eyes.

How ridiculous.

Hire a better character designer, or something.

And while you’re at it, make me a little cuter too.


“When will you quit?”

The Hero, Atom, and The Villain were face to face in an undisclosed location which he currently used as his base of operations. Of course, they were both masked to conceal their identities.

It was a dim, grim atmosphere; he didn’t so much enjoy bright lights. Of course, one of them was tied to a chair in a bundle of wire, while the other one was relaxing comfortably across from her. The two were separated only by a gap of air, and surrounded by a neatly organized laboratory setup.

“Are you enjoying the restraints? I designed them special, just for the likes of you and me. Because we could so easily escape from anything else.”

“It shouldn’t be hard to find a way out of these either.”

“Sure. Feel free to continue trying, then. I have plenty of patience to spare.”

“What drives you to do this? To kidnap me; to commit terrorism in Cascadia; to murder, and kill, and steal; to trample all over others weaker than you. Why can’t you just give it up?”

He gave a bit of a sigh, then stood up.

“Well… Many things over the years. Greed; political drive; an overbearing sense of justice; just like you, right?”

“We’re nothing alike.”

“Sure we are. I’ve gone through all of the same phases as you. Just the same, I’m sure that we’re even the same now.”

“I’d doubt it.”

“You want to quit, don’t you? With all of this.”

“Quit? Quit what?”

“Come on, don’t play dumb with me. There’s nobody on the premises but the two of us. This is a safe space for the two of us to be honest with each other.”

“You don’t have the right to even mutter the term ‘safe space’.”

“It’s always so difficult to get through to you, you know? Stubborn girl.”

“You’ve got people around. I know it.. The moment I try to escape, they’ll try to chase me down, until you give up for the time being and recuperate. That’s how it’s always been. Don’t act like you’re some creative genius.”

“I used to be, actually. I used to enjoy this sort of game of cat and mouse between us. But you’re right, things have gotten stale. I’ve gotten stale, really. But haven’t you, as well? Atom.”

Please. This isn’t some sick game to me. I exist to protect the people.”

“‘Justice’ this, ‘protect the people’ that. Why don’t you just give it up already? Who is there to protect, when so much of the world have locked themselves away within the confines of some virtual prison? Just what are you protecting? You’re a mascot, for a big city. Not some savior, like you claim to be. We are gods. We exist to live above the humans, who waste their time with trivial things. We were never meant to involve ourselves with them.”

He was getting through to her. Though she wanted to deny it, what was she really doing with her life, living as some sort of cheap mascot


“Or at least, that’s what I thought before. I thought I had a greater purpose. But now? Honestly? I can’t really seem to care anymore.”

He was pacing, now. With his hands clasped together behind his back, The Villain’s aura of confidence seemed to recede a bit, and his nervousness began to show.

“I just… I’d like to try it. Living as a human. But that kind of thing isn’t quite possible either, you know?”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You asked me what drives me. And I’ve been thinking about it, over many stressful nights. Why do I do any of this anymore? Why haven’t I given up on trying to incite change in a world that doesn’t want my help? A world that wishes to stay stagnant?”

He stopped, and turned towards The Hero once again.

“It’s you, Atom. It’s always been you.”

“W-what? What are you trying to say!?”

He began to unclasp the back of his bulky, villainous helmet. Airlocks began to unseal, and sweat-ridden white strands began to fall from inside of it, as he lifted it up.

He repeated himself, muffled from the raising of his helmet.

“Like I said, Atom. We’re the same.”

After it was fully pulled off, he held it down at his chest with his hands, and dropped it to the ground. Amongst the silence, a loud clank of metal against concrete could be heard as Atom came into full view of The Villain’s head, which not one human had ever laid eyes on before.

Up until this point, he had been entirely unidentifiable. And she finally understood why.

He had no face.

“I’m in love with you, Atom. I’d like it if we could throw these silly roles away, and spend the rest of our lives together.”

She was bewildered. And he knew why, too. But despite that, The Hero kept her composure.

“A- absolutely not. I would never consider somebody like you as a potential partner.”

Despite her harsh words, the girl’s tone had actually softened up quite a bit.

“Well, I figured you’d say as much.”

“Then why? Why would you show me that? That you have no face?”

“Because you don’t, either. I know. I can tell. That silhouette that you use under your mask is but a mold. It’s not quite the same, feature-wise. I can tell, you know. I’ve been paying attention to those sorts of details for a long time now, though I’ve only recently come to realize it.”

She had no words to retort with.

“Go ahead. Take off your mask. I’d like to face you with honest intentions, for once.”

He pressed on a small key fob-like device in his hand, and it loosened the restraints that Atom had been held back by. They fell to the ground, and she had regained the ability to move freely.

She didn’t do it immediately. It took a bit of time, and a bit of pondering. But eventually, she pulled down her hood, and slid the skin-tight off of her head. And The Villain was right on the ball, too. There was nothing but flat skin.

“I respect you, actually. I’m not a real one. A god, I mean. I’m only a poor imitation, that came from a lab. A young, ignorant kid helped me escape, and I became his assistant for a long while. But then he passed away like any normal human would, and I decided to start doing this sort of thing. It was an impulsive decision, really.”

He looked up at her, right into where eyes should have been.

“Muzhi is my name. It… just means “thumb”. Nothing special. He gave it to me; my benefactor. If possible, I’d like to hear more about you as well.”

Again, she pondered. Like her world was being turned upside down, she felt strangely comfortable with The Villain. With Muzhi.

Eventually, she opened up. About her past; her fairly normal upbringing, and her desire to be a hero when she was a child. Even though it wasn't particularly special or interesting, Muzhi enjoyed hearing about it. He commented on some parts, and laughed at others.

Before long, they were having a normal conversation. Just like two humans would. They spent the night enjoying themselves, and Muzhi even brought out alcohol for the two of them to drink.

For Atom, it was purely a moment of weakness. She still wasn't sure. She still fell back onto her tried and true values when push came to shove, and she wasn't sure if she could ever see herself starting some sort of pseudo life with the man before her.

But at the very least, they weren't strangers anymore.

"Kallan Attison. My name is Kallan Attison. You wanted to know, right?'

"Y- yes. I did. I mean, I do."

After a moment of silence following their last conversation, the man was taken a bit off guard. After that and a few more drinks, the two layed.

I mean, they had sex.

I didn't stay around for that part, but maybe I should have.

After all, it was the very next day that The Ego came to challenge The Hero to a fight to the death.

And it was the last time anybody had ever heard the name "Kallan Attison." The name which she had long thought she threw away.

Muzhi seemed to change drastically, after that.

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