Federation-Apocalypse Session 201a – It Dropeth From Heaven Like Gentle Rain

Marty was taking advantage of Markov’s constant mental peeking at the hatchlings to peer a little deeper…

The hatchlings were so ruthless, so driven to defeat each other, so vicious in victory.

They were so YOUNG. Were they REALLY that… inherently cruel? Then why had Tethen become so… benign once enthralled? He’d written that sort of thing off to Kevin overwriting their personalities once – but now he knew that enthrallment didn’t actually do that!

He had the power. He probed deep into their minds.

Underneath the laughter at other hatchlings suffering, underneath the rivalry, underneath the enjoyment of inflicting pain on losing competitors, there was a thin thread of thought, pulsing like a fluttering heart: “It’s not me, it’s not me, it’s not me, I get to live today, IT’S NOT ME…”

Every agonized sob and despairing cry from another hatchling was a whisper in their ears, saying “I’ve clawed my way a little further up, Someone ELSE failed today, I’m a little closer to getting to grow up free and intact and have a life…”

Underneath every achievement and ambition and the desperate desire for approval – there was a frantic plea… “See! See! I’m doing well! Better than the others! Keep me! Keep me! When you’re picking who you have to abandon, or need to dispose of, or cannot feed, KEEP ME!”

And… underneath it all there was a tiny voiceless plea that had gone unanswered for five centuries, a part of the human mental patterns that underlay everything in the Manifold…”Love Me? Mother? Father? Please? Please? Oh please…”.

That was the price of the magical imprinting that taught them so much of what they needed to know before they were even hatched. They KNEW. It was the price of being able to breed so rapidly that a single pair could soon dominate a world. It was the price of being the apex predator – in a universe where so much of the prey was sapient.

There was a REASON why the gem dragons – natural telepaths – were so scarce. They could feel the pleading desperation of every hatchlings young mind, and how they would cling to any hope. They felt them when they were snuffed out or dimmed into suffering grayness by being bound into slavery – and they could not pretend that they weren’t really people yet. They could not bear to match the teeming hordes of offspring that the metallics and chromatics produced…

That… was unbearable. The rules of this reality… made it an outpost of hell. No wonder the place lured and entrapped souls!

And no wonder that Kevin, seeking a place where his darkest drives would pass unremarked, and touched by the power of the abyss, would settle on it.

And he… now had friends and children here.

IT WOULD BE CHANGED.

Kevin… had already started that. The hatchlings he bound… were happy, were so useful that they were almost invariably well cared-for, and missed out on very little. Already, 90% of all new hatchlings were… destined for happiness. Was the utility and – optional – pain of the process just Kevin’s usual pretense of evil, meant to get that underlying fact past the chromatic rulers? Was he eventually planning to push that percentage even higher and to phase out the pain as it became accepted?

As for Kevin’s own hatchlings… He’d assured them that he would never sell, or kill, or abandon, or gratuitously hurt any of them beyond the pain of enslavement – a few bad days at most (were they just to keep “enslavement” from becoming popular?). He’d ensured that they knew that he cared for them, and that he would make sure that… they had fairly full and happy lives even if they wouldn’t get to reproduce. He hadn’t told them, but he was quietly arranging it so that most of them would even get to do that. He was… answering even the phantasms pleas. A granter of wishes indeed.

Still, regardless of what Kevin might have in mind – whether consciously or unconsciously – it needed to be speeded up!

Hm… Was there any good way to speed up that realization in Kevin’s mind? To at least bring it up to consciousness? His fondness for letting people gamble themselves into slavery notwithstanding, the level of background pain and misery here was completely unnecessary! Was there some way to go completely over the top and shove it in his face?

And HE… would have to bring Markov under control. even if it meant accepting – and working to reform – his own unruly suppressed desires – and soothe away those horrible, unbearable, fears in his children.

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