16 – The Pit
Butterfly stirred from her slumber. She remembered the bolt of pain as a dart pierced her neck. She remembered an assassin telling her to enter the pit so they could rescue Lucy and then another bolt of pain as she was tranquillized and so her memory grew spotty.
She remembered the outnumbering solders swarming and stripping them. The muted cries and threats from her peers as weapons were taken away. She remembered the bite as tight metal handcuffs were secured around her wrists and ankles, the rattling of chains as her hands and feet were yoked together behind her back. She felt the shift of gravity as a crane was used to lift her up into the air and down into the pit.
She remembered the screaming and heat as they approached the bottom of the pit and the overwhelming smell of blood and rot. She remembered soldiers unloading her and her friends and carrying them like cargo to a rubbish chute set in a thick concrete wall. She remembered landing on what felt like glass and being carried. Then she blacked out.
Butterfly woke up to find herself wearing a crude leather skirt and tshirt. Her peers were similarly dressed, even the Queen. They were in a deep cavern open to sunlight. The floor was covered in a centimetre of sand or dust. A tall thick set woman with warts, scars and signs of fungal infection was watching over them. She held a big stick that culminated in and end covered in what looked like human teeth.
“Where are we?” asked Butterfly
The woman laughed “You are kidding me?”
Butterfly groaned and started stretching “So we're in the pit?”
The woman nodded “Let me guess? Outsiders? You clubbed together to visit Rome and end this shit? You made it through the gladiatorial trials and made a play for the big tower? And now? Pahahaha! You're so screwed?”
Butterfly sighed “So what do we do?”
The woman thought for a moment then said “Well now you have clothes and are awake to really feel the pain you get to go forward and donate your skin, bones and hair to other poor unfortunates who end up down here. Then you get to have a nice rest as you heal before you perform your duty to extract donations from other poor unfortunates and if you're really lucky and don't rapidly replace your lost bones and skin you are tortured and slowly carved away at to provide food for the other inmates and alternate with torturing your friends. And if you're really lucky and make others feel extreme pain without ruining their effectiveness as torturers you may get a big stick and the right to help run this pain machine.”
The colour drained from Butterfly's face, she hadn't thought anything could be worse than the conspiracy she helped dismantle but this was it. She vomited.
A short woman with a false leg made from someone's thigh bone walked forward flanked by two tall body builders who each had an arm missing.
The tall woman Butterfly had been speaking to spoke with the short woman. After a moment the short woman walked over to Butterfly.
Butterfly got to her feet and saluted “You want me to make my donation, sir!”
The short woman laughed bitterly “What limb do you want to donate?”
Butterfly answered “Take my left leg”
The short woman nodded and the grunts with missing arms escorted butterfly over to bench made from skin stretched over bones.
Butterfly laid in the bed.
A short ginger woman gave Butterfly a sad smile as she listed to the other short woman's instructions.
“I'm sorry” said the ginger woman and she carved into Butterfly's flesh without anaesthetic, using knifes made by sharpening bone.
The ginger woman exposed the bones of Butterfly's leg and cauterised any bleeding by virtue of bone heated over fire then she carefully cut the tendons connecting her leg bones to her pelvis and foot before she removed the leg bones. She carefully placed the leg bones to one side before slicing off Butterfly's left foot, setting that aside and severing the meat of Butterfly's left leg from her arse. The meat was set aside and Butterfly's wounds were cauterised then the ginger woman removed the skin from her arms and carefully removed her teeth one by one, cauterising wounds as she went until at last Butterfly had her hair cut.
Butterfly was left to writhe in agony as Kitty, Galla and Mariam watched while the resources gained from her were ferried around to be made use of. Then Butterfly was carried over to a left dusty healing corner.
Butterfly woke up to find a tall beautiful dark skinned woman stroking her hair. “Hey honey, are awake?”
Butterfly tried to speak before giving up and nodding
The beautiful woman introduced herself “My name is Iris and this is the healing corner.”
Butterfly wrote a message in the dust with her finger “Why are you naked?”
Iris laughed “Good question! I was left for dead in the gladiatorial arena so I didn't have to make a donation. The Unleasher says that as a result of that its not fair that I wear clothes but it's okay she gave me a pill and now I don't feel the cold. She said I am to take special care of you and give you lots of cuddles and strokes as you are a kitten in human form, is that right?”
Butterfly nodded and wrote in the dust “Can I see her?”
Iris squeezed Butterfly “No silly, she's very busy but I can see if I can get a message to her if you'd like?”
Iris called out “Lucy, get the Unleasher to come over here please darling?”
Butterfly groaned and then she felt something stroking her left arm. She turned to see Galla who had donated her left arm.
Mariam was dragged over, she'd donated her right leg.
Kitty had donated her left arm.
The Queen had donated her left leg.
Flitzy had donated her legs.
Olaf had donated her right arm.
Emilia had donated her left leg.
Bernice had donated her left leg.
They all cried in despair, especially the shape shifters who had the double whammy of being mutilated and having their souls scarred so they were locked in these bodies. Flitzy could no longer feel her connection to the magic force that pervades reality and felt as though this truly was hell.
Lucy came over accompanied by the Unleasher.
Butterfly stared into the Unleasher's eyes and saw the man she'd last spoken to over a video feed on a septagonoid ship “Help me, Farsh-nuke” she wrote.
Butterfly and the Unleasher are suddenly standing, restored to perfect health, in a chilled room lined with pressurized gas canisters linked up with valves and piping to racks of computing.
“What is this place?” asks Butterfly
The Unleasher answers “Something you need to see
William Dickson Wright pauses for a moment, quietly drinking in the atmosphere. “Impressive.”
William walks to a computer terminal and starts waving his Quantum Oscillator about, scanning things. He lets out a little bit of the gas to test and where it leaks, reality itself dissolves into a black void. William licks this tiny speck of nothingness.
William says “Shit, this could actually work.”
The Farsh-nuke says “That’s bad.”
William says “Let me just check something.”
William focuses on the tip of his finger, turning it green then he uses the Quantum Oscillator to blast a scraping of his illogicity into the void. The void grows larger.
Butterfly asks “Why is William talking to himself?”
The Unleasher says “He's talking to me, to the Farsh-nuke within himself. Notice the flickering of green in his eyes when the Farsh-nuke takes over.”
The Farsh-nuke says “Shit.”
Butterfly says “Oh yeah I see now
William says “I am sorry Lucy.”
The Farsh-nuke says “That could obliterate everything.”
William says “It would solve the problem, the final problem. I could solve it.”
The Farsh-nuke says “Everything would cease to exist, to never have existed, time will be undone, everyone unborn.”
William says “I could do it, me. I could finally get something right for once.”
The Farsh-nuke says “No this is wrong, this is so wrong. This is the closest there has ever been or ever will be to evil.”
William says “But it won’t ever have been.”
The Farsh-nuke says “Lucy will die.”
William says “She will cease to exist. That’s different.”
The Farsh-nuke says “This can’t happen. I will not allow it to happen. I am many many horrific things but I can not let you do this, William.”
The Farsh-nuke plunges his hand into William’s chest and pulls out his heart. William laughs.
William says “I am a wereshark. I don’t need -”
The Farsh-nuke flashes with anger then picks up a glass vial containing close to pure logic.
The Farsh-nuke says “If I smash this glass at our feet, we’ll dissolve, you and I. We’ll die together.”
William says “You can’t.”
The Farsh-nuke says “I can.”
William says “Then do it.”
The Farsh-nuke says “Alright I will.”
The hand holding the vial utterly fails to budge.
William says “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”
The Farsh-nuke says “But that’s impossible! Absolutely impossible!”
William says “That’s the problem with evil monsters? Always so naive about the clichés they are invoking.”
The Farsh-nuke says “I am the great Farsh-nuke! The ever watchful spirit of chaos! It’s my job to protect the nothingness! This cannot be!”
William says “I know right? And my little dog too? She totally didn’t trounce your powers of possession did she? You must have known? I told you, she got it from me.”
The Farsh-nuke says “No. No, that’s too unbearable to think about.”
William says “That you’ve been living with me at my discretion? I know right? Isn’t it just the greatest? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to come up with the final solution.”
William lowers the hand holding the vial and starts agitating it with his Quantum Oscillator.
The scene vanishes and switches to a younger Butterfly running down a corridor, she finds a septagonoid and cries “Quick, take me hostage! William is in your bomb room right now! He will wipe you all out unless you send him a video message right now, saying that you’ll kill me if he doesn’t stop plotting to save the multiverse and wipe out the Septagonoids!”
The Septagonoid says “Is your name Lucy?”
“Yes” says the younger Butterfly.
The Septagonoid clarifies “Sister Lucille Badass?”
The younger Butterfly says “That’s me.”
The Septagonoid says “Whatever you say maam, just please don’t kill me.”
The scene shifts back to show William in the chilled room.
William holds up a vial. He cries out jubilantly “I’ve done it! In this vial lies the answer to the oldest equation, the first equation, the equation that must never ever be solved! All I need do is break the glass of this vial and a chain reaction will begin. Time will be undone. Logic and illogicity will flatten out into a matt black void of silence. The classist view of nothingness will become actual canon for evermore!”
A buzzer sounds and a video feed of the younger Butterfly and the Septagonoid is projected onto a wall.
The Septagonoid says “Listen Mister William Dickson Wright Farsh-nuke sir! If you do not stop trying to save the multiverse and wiping us out then I will eradicate your good lady friend here!”
“Oh, really?” says William
The Septagonoid says “Indeed Sir! I will give her the most painful death, sir! Unless that is you stop trying to wipe us out so we can solve the final equation!”
William laughs. “I really don’t take well to threats!”
William blows illogicity into the solution in the vial. “Shame really to ruin such a fine solution but the fuckers asked for it.”
William smashes the vial on the ground then Tara materialises around him before hurriedly dematerialising.
The scene ends and Butterfly and the Unleasher are left to stand in a green void.
The Unleasher hugs Butterfly “You saved all of us. I owe you so very very much.”
Butterfly nuzzles the Unleasher “I've missed you so much you know and it's only been a month and a half since I left you. I'm all yours if you want me.”
The Unleasher pulled back “I won't lie I want to and I am still very protective of you but no I am the Unleasher now. I gifted myself to the Bam-Kursh to end our feud and the bloodshed. At least that's what was supposed to happen. I'm not fit to care for myself let alone another but we will talk properly. I won't lie it will probably mean more pain for you in the long term but I need my Lucy fit and well.”
Butterfly nodded “I understand, heal my friends too won't you?”
The Unleasher sighed “I can't make any promises. I can just about free your souls from the restrictions placed upon you by the Bam-Kursh but I can't regrow your skin and bones for you.”
Butterfly nodded “I trust you
The Unleasher grinned and kissed Butterfly on the forehead.
Butterfly woke up back in the pit. The Unleasher was leaning over her.
“Hush” said the Unleasher as she closed Butterfly's eyelids and laid the palm of her right hand on Butterfly's chest “Sleep and recover. I will wake you when we can chat.”
Butterfly woke after the deepest most pleasant sleep she had had in a long time. She yawned and stretched and realised her leg had regrown. She also realized her teeth were back.
Galla said “What did you give her to let us be so healed?”
Mariam and Emilia groaned.
Bernice said “Any of you feel like helping your other friends?”
Flitzy said “Meesa have a make whole spell, I shall heal the humans.”
Kitty said “Whatever you did, I'm glad you did it.”
Galla said more seriously “Butterfly what the hell did you give her?”
Butterfly said “I was her pet before I was yours. Plus I did save the multiverse.”
Galla said “I'm not letting you go Butterfly. It's great that you've met up with you're old owner but you're mine now.”
Lucy bounded over wearing a bikini “Hey Butterfly and Galla, you're better now. That's awesome. I tell you this Unleasher woman she is the best owner ever. Iris doesn't even realise she's her pet because the Unleasher brings her under so quickly Iris just thinks she falls asleep in her arms.”
Galla said “Oh yeah I noticed her yesterday. I thought I killed her.”
Lucy and Butterfly stared at Galla.
Galla shrugged “I had to get through the gladiatorial competition and she had a knife so I made her slit her own throat.”
Lucy said “Your owner is scary”
Iris woke up from her position beside Butterfly “Hey you're awake and healed? The Unleasher must really like you.
Butterfly asked “Iris, how would you like to join us? We're plotting rebellion and revolution.”
Iris said “I'd love to but I'd want some clothes before I started shanking guards”
Butterfly nodded “Lucy could you fetch the Unleasher please?”
Lucy nodded and bounded away.
Galla asked “Do you have anybody to miss you at home Iris?”
Iris stared at Galla
Butterfly said “My friend means, well I'm her pet and Lucy's pet and well she thinks you would make a good pet.”
Iris looked confused “I'm a journalist who can time travel, I am not a pet.”
Galla said “No but you would be a very valuable asset.”
The Unleasher appeared behind Iris “She's going to go back home to her family in central city and all of this will be but an unpleasant memory.”
Butterfly stared at the Unleasher, she knew that stance, it was the same William adopted when strange men had offered to buy her off William, it was a very protective and dominant posture.
Galla said “If you want Iris to not get involved I suggest you send her to help the other injured.”
The Unleasher caught the threat and nodded for Iris to go.
Butterfly said “Farsh-nuke meet the elder god behind this Venus Trap, otherwise known as Galla Placidia”
The Unleasher said “How annoyed would you be if I murdered her?”
Galla glared at the Unleasher “The Farsh-nuke as I live and breathe, I wondered when you'd turn up. I rather assumed you'd be a man.”
The Unleasher smiled “Do you really want to do this?”
Galla smiled “Oh I would love to.”
Mariam said “Galla, please don't kill the woman who has let us have our teeth back.”
Galla grimaced “Dammit! My host won't let me make a move towards you.”
The Unleasher chuckled “Yeah, it is a bitch when they assert agency over their own body isn't it?”
Galla turned and kissed Mariam “Fuck me, you beautiful woman.”
Butterfly asked “Do you know her?
The Unleasher shrugged “It's been a long time since I was an elder god out in the wild, I might not remember. Anyway how about you, you good?”
Butterfly nodded “So what happened to you, to make you into a woman?”
The Unleasher lay down beside the Butterfly “The Unleasher was a real woman. A resistance fighter for the Sylph Allied Liberation Front, she built a very clever bomb to make me feel what it was to be a woman.”
“And now you're running hell?” said Butterfly.
The Unleasher raised her eyebrow “How did you know?”
“Well for starters you have access to sylph pills to turn Iris but more importantly this is an economy that farms and exploits women as resources. If anybody else was running a torture system then they'd get hot coals, a rake and maybe some chains but otherwise they'd be left to rot. This system as crude and cruel as it is gives people clothes and weapons and soap and other things that can be made from harvesting women.” said Butterfly.
The Unleasher nodded and lay back in the dust, staring into space. “The Bam-Kursh said he knew I would try to overthrow her if I wasn't kept busy so she licked me up in this pet and said I could get access to basic food and resources if I tortured any women he sent down here. The less resources I ask of him, the better resources I can get and the more women scream and suffer, the more of a free hand I am given”
Butterfly sighed “The man who founded the conspiracy to eat sylphs for the supposed good of all becomes the woman responsible of running hell for the actual good of all.”
The Unleasher nodded “No greater torture for me than that.”
Butterfly squeezed the Unleasher's hand “Hey this place is clean, the women are clothed and you are slowly militarising the place. It's a success.”
The Unleasher said without emotion “If your plan doesn't work I'm going to have to farm you and your friends. We need the resources and you need to suffer.”
Butterfly rolled over and hugged the Unleasher “It's alright, we'll get out of here.”
The Unleasher broke down in tears “I really don't want to harvest from Iris. I just want one person to make it through this place without being tortured.”
Butterfly nuzzled the Unleasher “You know the other Lucy is a me from another universe where she got turned into a sylph by the Great Farsh-nuke?”
The Unleasher nodded “The weight that's on that woman's shoulders, I don't know how she can bare it.”
Butterfly couldn't think of anything else to say so she just hugged the Unleasher until the tears went away.
Galla spoke up “I know where to find our clothes.”
The Unleasher stared at her “Where?”
Galla shut her eyes for a moment and said “They're in the soldier enclosure, they can be thrown down the rubbish chute at any time. I just need to give the word.”
“Okay” said the Unleasher “How?”
Galla shrugged “It's the Venus Trap. My soul scattered throughout the multiverse. That's what bought you all here, I'm trying to rebuild myself. Fortunately while I was off the grid the other parts of my soul that were large enough worked to help us. Now how are we going to do this? I think we should send Butterfly.”
“No, I'll go” said the Unleasher
“Do you normally collect the rubbish? If you don't then you risk ruining everything. Butterfly is a known adversary of the Bam-Kursh so there's plausible deniability and she's a wereshark and a fairy so she can stand to make the mission.” said Galla.
“I am not letting you put her in danger” said the Unleasher
“Give the word” said Butterfly and she started running
Galla glared at the Unleasher
The Unleasher grumbled “Give the word”
Butterfly ran across the pit, hurdling the sick or the fallen and dodging guards that lashed out with their sticks. She made it to the bottom of the chute and found the bundle of clothes laving atop a large metal catch area that had been covered in teeth. She grabbed the clothes and ran back.
Galla and the Unleasher were screaming at each other when Butterfly returned.
Butterfly handed over the clothes “Would you two stop tearing into one another I got it done and once we're ready I think you'll find we can be more than a match for the Bam-Kursh.”
“See, I told you” said Galla
The Unleasher glared at Galla “Fine”
“Fine, what?” asked Butterfly.
The Unleasher took the clothes from Butterfly and handed them to Iris “Go hide these somewhere safe.
Butterfly stared at the Unleasher “What is it? What were you arguing about?”
“Whether our cover is worth so much” whispered the Unleasher then she grabbed Butterfly's arm and took her over to the short ginger woman.
The ginger woman said “Unleasher, you don't normally take people to make their donations?”
The Unleasher shook her head and swallowed before taking a deep breath and yelling “Silence rabble!”
The chatter and the screams stopped.
The Unleasher cried “You all know me! You all know how much I help you and look after you!? Well this is what happens when you try to escape! Sister Lucille Danse of the Sylph Liberation Front you are to be harvested of all your organs and bones and skin while still alive without pain relief! Your regeneration has been stopped and you shall suffer a slow and lingering death for the benefit of all!”
Butterfly cried out in shock and pain as the Unleasher walked away and the ginger woman laid her onto the operation table.
The Unleasher walked back to Galla and Butterfly's friends and said “There is nothing you can say that will be a patch on how I feel about myself right now.”
The Unleasher slumped against the wall of the pit and sobbed into Butterfly's still beating heart.