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In Pan Post 130, Archadmiral Lo has no time to celebrate her victory over X in Pan Post 129 as Carian Myste assails her. He is angered that Archadmiral Lo has no reverence for Highemperor or Highemperor's Wives. She uses an electrical sword, forged by the Alpha Reich, but Carian Myste uses his mirrors to create two replicas of the sword for himself. He overcomes her and stabs one of his swords through a mirror, which then protrudes from Lo's gut and she dies. Carian is then confronted by Zhuge who attempts to reason with Carian and redeem him from the influence of Highemperor but Carian is unswayed so Zhuge tricks him into transporting himself into his own mirror and is being constantly reflected between mirrors forever. Zhuge himself is then met by Quincy. Zhuge maintains his will over Powerplaying to assert that he cannot be defeated this way. Quincy almost overcomes Zhuge but The Shard appears and clenches the life from Quincy. Zhuge then leaves The Shard to deal with the incoming PCC-Nullity and its captain, Peasant Girl. She controls Nothing and uses that to her advantage as The Shard is meant not to exist either and she obliterates The Shard.

Post

Mentors

Lo has barely holstered her pistol where Carian Myste assails her, striking at her with his cane-sword.

Carian Myste: Vile villainess! That was one of the Highemperor's true loves!

Lo snorts as she dodges before pulling her own pirate sword to parry.

Archadmiral Lo: Is that what you call them? They're just his squeezes, his favorite lays, that's all. Just like he's gonna be my favorite lay. At least for a week.

Carian Myste: Witch! You shan't sully him with your whore body!

Lo barks a laugh, highly amused, as she continues to parry, testing the young man's defenses with a feint here and there.

Archadmiral Lo: Firstly, X was the witch, not me. Secondly, I don't think Highemp can be sullied any more than he already is - he's even more of a whore than *I* am--

She stumbles back as Carian thrusts his sword forward in anger.

Archadmiral Lo: Tsk. Such rude behavior.

She flicks a switch on her sword, and lightning crackles along its edge. It is no ordinary electricity, but a perfectly preserved Alpha Reich motive arc, a relic taken from its astrolabes before that empire's ancient decline. Carian's sword shears off when next it strikes the crackling blade.

Lo stabs forward triumphantly, but Carian leaps back and holds a mirror to her - then he pulls an exact duplicate of Lo's crackling pirate sword from the mirror. He immediately follows this with another mirror, pulling a second copy from that, now dual wielding against Lo. The pirate chief whistles, impressed.

Archadmiral Lo: I have GOT to learn that trick.

Despite her bravado, she is being pushed back by Carian's dual-wield assault, and zooms away on her jetpack to gain some room to breathe. So to speak. They are in outer space after all.

She pulls her pistol again and fires more Omega Reich bullet-missiles at the young man. Carian whips out another mirror, and the bullet-missiles go through glassy surface as though it isn't there, appearing inside the mirror. Within the mirror, they explode, and the reflective surface turns matte black.

Carian: Ugh. That was one of my favorite mirrors. The Baroness de Comte du Sifort always loved stripteasing for me in front of it.

Archadmiral Lo: Another man-whore! No wonder you and he get along so well. Perhaps I'll take you into my harem as well, you've got a good look about you--

She dodges more swings of Carian's copied swords, and pulls out more artifacts. Carian tosses smoke pellets at everything she throws at him, and the smoke engulfs said artifacts, obliterating them from existence.

Carian Myste: No more games, witch.

He pulls out another mirror, and stabs his swords through it. Lo chokes in pain, as the blades protrude out her gut. Struggling for breath as the world dims, she reaches for the rare Miracle-H3@1 pills in her belt, of which only one batch was ever manufactured.

But it is too late, and the pills float from her lifeless hand. Carian lets go of the hilts of his copied swords, breathing heavily.

Zhuge: Well, that was a tricky fight, wasn't it, lad?

Carian whirls to see the bird-man reclining on his side on emptiness.

Carian Myste: You! The apostate!

Zhuge: Is that what your little powerplayer club calls me now? The one who quit your fool game?

Carian Myste: Prepare to die!

Zhuge: Really? And here I thought you had more honor than to attack someone who poses no threat.

Carian eyes him warily.

Carian Myste: You are still dangerous. You could reclaim your powerplaying mantle any time you chose.

Zhuge: But I have not, and I will not. Aren't things much nicer this way?

Carian Myste: What do you want?

Zhuge: A quiet retirement.

Carian just stares at him. Zhuge sighs.

Zhuge: Failing that...it occurs to me that a strapping young lad like yourself may have been led astray by...misguided mentors.

Carian Myste: Lies. Highemp is wise and good and powerful!

Zhuge snorts indelicately, no mean feat with his beak.

Zhuge: Seems to me his 'wisdom' has led him to this ruinous battle where the only outcome is death and more death.

He sweeps his arm to indicate the devastation. Ships still spew laser fire at each other, Netherwyrms still belch netherflame, Cosmic Destructors still sear holes in reality - but the ruinous wreckage grows every larger, choking space.

Carian Myste: Only because fools challenge his glorious and just rule! And when his plan is complete, he will ascend to true Godhood and set everything right! Death itself will turn back!

Zhuge: Spoken like a true believer. You really believe he will do that?

Carian Myste: Yes, he will.

Zhuge: Won't.

Carian frowns.

Carian Myste: He will.

Zhuge: Won't.

Carian Myste: What are you saying? He will!

Zhuge: Won't.

Carian Myste: Will!

Zhuge: Won't.

Carian Myste: He will, and nothing you say can change that!

Zhuge: Won't. You see? We can continue this cycle forever. That is the ruinous end of powerplayers, always trying to have the last word. But not everyone can have the last word. Not even one person can have the last word, because as long as life marches on, there will never be a last word.

Carian Myste: You are a peddler of words then, a riddler. I would respect your wit if it didn't couch foolishness.

Zhuge sighs.

Zhuge: I had hoped to redeem you...hoped that not everyone in Highemp's circle was lost. Now it seems I shall have to correct you forcibly.

Carian Myste: I know a threat when I see one!

He conjures a mirror, and suddenly Zhuge vanishes, reappearing as his own reflection in the mirror.

Zhuge (in mirror): A curious feat.

Then the reflection vanishes. Carian blinks in surprise.

Carian Myste: Where are you? Where did you go?

Zhuge's voice drifts to him as from a great distance.

Zhuge: In the reflected world, there is the other side of your mirror, looking out into the real world. I leapt into the reflection of the mirror's other side, and am now doubly reflected.

His voice is fainter now.

Zhuge: Triply reflected now. The more I do this, the more of me there will be when I emerge. You'll have to follow if you want to catch me!

Carian furrows his brow, and with a scowl, he vanishes, only his reflection appearing in the mirror. Then his reflection vanishes.

The mirror floats in space, heedless of all the laser discharges and bolts zipping about as armies fight on.

Presently, Zhuge reappears. He takes the mirror and tucks it in his belt.

Zhuge: Poor lad. Forever reflected back and forth between two mirrors in...what was it? The hundred and forty-eighth layer of reflection?

Quincy: The boy was right. You are dangerous.

Zhuge looks up to see the beholder deity descending from above, its eyestalks glowing with energy.

Zhuge: Knowing that didn't save him, now did it? You know what would have saved him? Abandoning that foolish powerplaying you all practice.

Quincy: He shall be restored, as all will be, when my old protégé ascends. But you have abandoned powerplaying...and it won't save you.

His eyestalks beam forth powerful rays of deadly energy. Zhuge vanishes, and the beams shoot over the mirror that the bird-man's vanishment left behind, to destroy an entire flotilla of Mega Jonestown Prime, Imperium, and Pan Cosmic Command ships all dueling each other.

Zhuge reflects himself back out of the mirror, to appear behind Quincy.

Zhuge: Will.

Quincy: Won't.

More eye beams. Zhuge unflects back into the mirror, then shatters the mirror from within, reflecting himself back into as many multiples as there are mirror fragments.

Zhuge: Will.

Quincy's eyebeams strike all the mirror fragments simultaneously. The Zhuge reflections wink out.

Quincy: Won't.

Zhuge reappears directly in front of Quincy's large central eye.

Zhuge: Will.

Quincy: Won't.

Quincy focuses all his eyebeams onto the bird-man, locking onto his unique interdimensional signature, so that they will strike Zhuge no matter where he tries to go to avoid the attack. Zhuge stares unblinkingly into the deadly rays washing over him.

Zhuge: Will.

There is a ghost of a smile on the bird-man's face now.

Zhuge: I can do this all day.

Quincy: You fancy yourself the untouchable old wise man - but I too am ancient and cunning.

Zhuge: Yet you have not admitted the foolishness of powerplaying, as I have.

Quincy gives him a malevolent grin full of sharp teeth.

Quincy: And yet, I will win.

His single large eye bores into Zhuge's eyes, and the bird-man is swept up in that cyclopean gaze, unable to think or say anything, or to deny the beholder deity's will. The eyestalks charge up again, and Zhuge's conviction reasserts itself.

Zhuge: Won't!

The eyebeams glance harmlessly again off the bird-man. Quincy is unperturbed.

Quincy: For now, not yet. But you almost gave in. You almost lost to my superior will. I am as old and as cunning as you, but backed also by the powerplaying you disdain. Eventually, I will defeat you.

Zhuge cocks his head.

Zhuge: Even if I allowed that as a possibility...

There is a ghost of a whisper into Quincy's side.

Zhuge: Can you defeat BOTH of us?

Quincy screams in agony as the Shard's ethereal talons pass through his flesh. No physical wound is made, but the powerplayer is rent by existential agony. His eyestalks blaze with new power, surging forth to strike The Shard. Holes appear in the husk's apparitional form, but it raises his claws again.

Zhuge: No. You cannot.

Quincy: Can!

It fires its eyebeams at the Shard again.

Zhuge: Cannot.

Quincy: Can!

Zhuge: Cannot.

Quincy: Can-------!!!

Quincy's last declaration is cut off as the Shard's ghostly hand enfolds his body, before closing around it like a fist. Its intangible fingers pass through his body as the fist is made, and Quincy's life is clenched out of him, unable to beat off the shard while also parrying Zhuge's willpower.

Zhuge: That was most satisfying. Well done, my good Shard.

The Shard makes no reply, and slowly turns in the void. Where its gaze passes, High Imperial ships are set ablaze. Zhuge turns to see what the Shard is looking at when its swivel stops.

Zhuge: Ah. Well, I'm sure you can handle that. It's nothing, really.

He vanishes. The Shard does not seem perturbed by its ally's disappearance, as it dispassionately watches the Nullity zoom through space towards it, helmed by Peasant Girl.

Peasant Girl: So, you're not really there, eh?

She grins malevolently.

Peasant Girl: Guess what? My power isn't really there, either.

She splays her hands in the Shard's direction, as the Shard raises its ethereal hand in kind. Nonexistent and annulled power blasts Peasant Girl, while nothing assails the Shard.

Then, the Shard makes the only sound it has made in eons. But the sound doesn't exist.

The Shard: .....

Then it is gone, utterly reduced to Nothing.

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