|Weight of Conscience is a Historical Event
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“All actions have consequences.”
- - Koluap
The skies were clear and the night was starry at the Imperial Palace of New Draka, heart of the Indoctrinate Collective at the Borealis Galaxy and indeed, the entire universe. The empire had relocated from their mother galaxy of Plazith Rim twelve years in the past, and had since fully integrated to Borealis's galactic society, becoming one of its top political, military and scientific superpowers. Jerkon, Royal Marechal of the Collective's Royal Guard, walked through the corridors of the palace as he made his way to its highest balcony, where he was invited to be by an old friend. It was unusual for Jerkon to be at New Draka, for he would more commonly be found patrolling the borders instead, though all who passed by him expressed their pleasure for his presence, something that lightened up his mood. After all, Jerkon had become a hero to the Dracogonarious people for his feats in wars such as the Second War of Black Fog, where he became recognized as the one who led the Dracogonarious to victory.
As he arrived to the balcony, he found the person who invited him sat down on the small garden existing in it, looking up to the skies. A scarred, old Spinker, it was obviously Koluap, the insane hero of his race who was known across the universe for his madness and quirks. He wore an ornamental armor complete with his typical admiral cap, and on his left hand, he carried a bottle of Spinker Volarin, the most famous beverage of his people, known for making its drinkers breath out small puffs of harmless black smoke; it was meant to replicate a breath weapon, something Spinkers often depicted themselves having back during their pre-spacefaring times. On his right hand was his trusted shotgun, a veteran of nearly as many battles as Koluap himself. As he noticed Jerkon arriving, Koluap waved to him and invited him to sit down next to him, which the Dracogonarious marechal promptly did.
- Jerkon - Did you not invite Herquie as well? It could have been a true reunion.
- Koluap - I was going to, but he's off-world with Maryah in a diplomatic visit to the Niaka Special Forces. I'm afraid he's gonna miss tonight.
- Jerkon - Could you not simply delay it until he returned?
- Koluap - ... No. I really couldn't.
As Jerkon eyed Koluap, he realized the Spinker was somber, not only in tone but also in general facial expressions. It was also clear that, despite being drinking, he was far from intoxicated. Volarin was not an alcoholic beverage.
- Jerkon - So what is the matter? You did not say what was going to happen here when you invited me.
- Koluap - I reckoned we could share a night together in a nostalgia trip, for old times's sake.
- Jerkon - You know I have border patrol duties to attend to. I cannot simply leave to be here when I please.
- Koluap - Give this old soldier just this night, okay?
- Jerkon - ... Fine. I suppose the border is safe regardless. The fleet does not need me in it at all times.
Koluap made himself comfortable in the grass, passing the bottle of Volarin to Jerkon, who politely refused. The Spinker placed it down next to them as he faced the sky once again.
- Koluap - In all truth... I asked you to be here because this is the last time we'll be doing this kind of thing.
- Jerkon - That sounds far-fetched. You still have an estimated three more hundred years left to live and I have more than that.
- Koluap - You and your numbers, like always... No, Jerkon. You don't get it. I'm going to die tonight.
Koluap put a hand on his shotgun and rose it in front of his face, as if admiring its physical appearance.
- Koluap - Going to open my mouth, put the barrel of this beauty in it, and pull the trigger.
Jerkon's eyes widened as he immediately threw a hand at Koluap's weapon, disarming him of it. The Spinker reacted to it with almost indifference, keeping his hands in the same position as they were.
- Jerkon - Have you reverted into a raving madman once again?! How dare you even say such things!?
- Koluap - I'm not crazy. Not anymore. I'm saying this with all the lucidity a man can have.
- Jerkon - When we finally cure you of your mental disabilities... you speak of suicide? Why?!
- Koluap - Because I hate my own existence, Jerkon!
Koluap rose to his feet and confronted the Dracogonarious, putting his snout against his and glaring into his eyes. Jerkon could not grasp what was happening, it was too sudden and it was coming out of the mouth of his best friend in the Gigaquadrant. As they exchanged stares for several moments, both of them stood down as Koluap exhaled heavily, and Jerkon put the shotgun back on the grass.
- Jerkon - ... Elaborate, Koluap.
- Koluap - Jerkon, you know how everyone sees me. I am the insane lunatic of the Spinker race, a mad arsonist who is obsessed with throwing buckets of lava at Xhodocto because it'd be funny if I did that. I've given my entire race a terrible name, yet they all look up to me like I'm a war hero. Truth is, the only reason I was ever at the military is because I was a tyrant emperor's weapon.
- Jerkon - But you are a hero, Koluap. Without your aid, we would have not defeated the Corruptus thirty years ago.
- Koluap - ... Time flies, doesn't it? The Plazithian Massacre was thirty years ago.
- Jerkon - Hm. I suppose I do not usually stop to think about it.
- Koluap - I am no hero, Jerkon. I am a broken shell of a man, used to kill because of his insanity, serving as a terrible example of what a true Spinker is. And all the people I've killed these last seven hundred years... I've never cared for them, because I was bloodthirsty and murderous. But now that I'm not crazy anymore? It weights my conscience so much it's unbearable.
Koluap took a drink out of his bottle, offering it to Jerkon a second time. This time around, the Dracogonarious accepted it as he watched Koluap closely before speaking once more.
- Jerkon - What about Windey? Maryah? Koliren?
- Koluap - They know of it already. I went through this with them, and they've learned to accept my decision. Not that they didn't cry and made me cry too, but they did. Well, except little Koliren... he's not old enough to understand, but I reckon he'll live a better life without my influence.
- Jerkon - You are his biological father.
- Koluap - He's also disgraced to be the son of the madman for the rest of his life. I just hope he's strong enough to get over it when he grows up. The only people I've not really told this to were you and Herquie. Guess Bird-Brain is gonna get a surprise tomorrow.
- Jerkon - But I do not want you to die, Koluap. You are my best companion.
- Koluap - Jerkon... You're my best bud as well, but you need to understand. I'm old, I'm depressed, and I'm no fit to fight, even if I were still crazy. All things must come to an end eventually.
A sigh came out of Jerkon. He wanted to feel outraged, but he felt like denying Koluap of his peace would be an insult to all he had achieved.
- Jerkon - What about your alien compatriots?
- Koluap - I don't reckon any of them will mind that much, so I didn't bother.
- Jerkon - What about Apollo? Or Kithworto?
- Koluap - Apollo is a nice guy. I seriously don't get how I managed to get along with a politician, let alone one like him. I guess he thought my insanity was an act to make humour, but even then, he's probably too busy doing his thing right now. As for Kithworto, while I respect him, I don't think Kicath feel affection of any kind, so I doubt he'd care... All the aliens I've met...
- Jerkon - Indeed. You have met many.
- Koluap - Arkarixus, Mu, Psi, Titanozor, Voro Acetenus, Willelmus, Tharaqím... I respect all of them for what we went through together. But whether the feeling is mutual, I would not be able to tell. After all, they only met the bad side of Koluap. Hell, I respect even Hachiman, who's a twerp and a stupid kid, yet he actually managed to pul off whatever it is Thea trained him to do.
- Jerkon - Many of them, I have not met myself.
- Koluap - Some were nicer than others. That Uriel guy, I only really got along with because I met his dad once. That Kalcedia gal is a literal slut who has her attitude too far up her own rear. That Iovera is an uncaring and sarcastic walking stick who also has her attitude too far up her own rear. And Tyraz, well, we made up after that kidnapping incident but he was still an idiot.
Koluap took his shotgun and, flicking a switch on its side, opened up a small electronic panel displaying a very extensive number which he presented to Jerkon. As he never used a Spinker-made weapon himself, the Dracogonarious was unsure of what to make of it.
- Koluap - I've owned this shotgun since I joined the military when I was 30. Through the ages I upgraded and modified it, but I never traded it for another weapon. You see this number in it?
- Jerkon - I assume it is a serial number of some description.
- Koluap - No. It's the weapon's internal kill count.
- Jerkon - ... It keeps track of kills?
- Koluap - Yeah, that's a thing we Spinkers like to put in our guns. Now, take a moment to realize what this means. Twelve billion, eight hundred and seven million, nine hundred and eighty seven thousand, six hundred and thirty two. That's how many have died to this gun alone.
- Jerkon - ... How?
- Koluap - Did you forget it already? I didn't always just fight demons. I was once tasked to destroy empires the old Spinker Emperor did not like. I was deployed into their capitals and ordered to massacre the population, that's how the original Spinker Empire expanded its borders. And that was before the Ernai Empire came in, and I was tasked to massacre them next. Then came the Marinox, the Corruptus, the Loron, the Neraida, the Xhodocto Vault, the Dominion, the Draconizane... It all counted up to this.
- Jerkon - So you are ashamed of your kills.
- Koluap - All of those, I've done not for the Spinkers, or the Dracogonarious or really anyone else. I did it all for fun. I am a cold, heartless murderer, regardless of how evil our enemies were. I enjoyed killing, I destroyed civilizations for my own amusement... and I was praised for it, that is the single worst part of it all. This is NOT something I want to be known for, but now, this is ALL I'm know for. Koluap, the madman, "hero" of the Spinkers.
Koluap looked at the starry skies once again. Nova Gheralvoz and Kerimalis were fully visible in the night, both moons illuminating New Draka and giving both Jerkon and Koluap a beautiful sight. The Spinker turned to his friend once again as he spoke.
- Koluap - I'm weighted by the deaths I've inflicted. And there's only one way to pay for blood. With blood. Jerkon, you were the best friend I could hope for, but I need you to understand my time is over. You're still young, you have much to live for yet. Even if I don't do this, I'm going to spend the new hundred or so years locked in a bed as I get too old to walk without help and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder every time I forget to take my medicine.
- Jerkon - ... I am not going to stop you. If you believe it is the right thing, then I will respect it.
- Koluap - Thank you... All in all, I've left a really bad legacy in the Gigaquadrant. After I'm gone, I just hope they eventually forget me. Forget "Koluap, the madman who sets things on fire"... and remember "Koluap, the Spinker forced to fight against his will, who nonetheless helped a bit at some occasions".
- Jerkon - Do not make me laugh. I am too sad to laugh.
- Koluap - With a face like that, it's a wonder you feel at all!
A sharp chuckle came out of Jerkon as he approached Koluap, wrapping his arms around him in an embrace, which the Spinker responded in kind. The two remained in the hug for many moments until Koluap moved away, taking his shotgun on his hands as he looked at it. Jerkon stepped back to give him space as he watched.
- Koluap - ... Yeah, I always make people laugh... I'm a jester, after all.
Opening his mouth, Koluap put the barrel of his shotgun in it, and pulled the trigger. There was clearly no hesitation in his actions as he did so, it was exactly what he wanted to do. Perhaps out of kindness not to get blood over Maryah's garden, Koluap fired a single energy shot which cauterized the wound immediately. Jerkon shivered, his emotions conflicted as he watched Koluap's body fall limp in the garden, his eyes closed and his cap flying off out of the balcony. As he carried the dead body of the Spinker on his arms, he had his head lowered, a grim expression on his face. He would have a decent funeral, at the very least.
Before the shot was fired, Jerkon could swear he glimpsed a smile coming out of Koluap. At least, he was finally resting in peace.