# Chapter 13
It was him!
Heye’s hands quivered as he realised with a terrible, drowning shock. I’ve been annoying people my whole entire life.
And it hasn’t been funny, or comical, or pleasant at all for anybody.
He felt inside himself the terrifying feeling Floop had felt along the floor, the horrible anticipation as it built and built, and the tremendous, aching, horrifying fundamental control Heye had endlessly stolen from those around him his entire life.
It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t comical. It wasn’t even neutral.
It had been torturous.
Inside his mind he stared at the stupid, stupid smile plastered over the face of the Sokotian who had mocked Floop, staring at the creases in his smile.
And he could have thrown up, just then, as he realised with a disgusting twang that he had known.
Inside his own identical stupid smiles he had seen the suffering he was causing, and in a pathetic, hidden effort to avert the pain he had just ignored it, pressing down on the feeling and clamping it as far down as it could go…
And it had worked. For himself, he had gotten away with not having to confront the real stakes of the real stakeholders of him repeating himself a thousand times a day…
And even worse…
Heye didn’t even get to say that was just who he was. The Sokotians had that: written in their DNA was the best excuse imagineable: a complete inability to not.
He knew he’d said crap in his mind, stuff like “it’s out of my control!” or “I couldn’t help it!” or “that’s me!“…
But as every tower inside of him came crumbling down in great thundering heaps, so did this one. He had always been able to choose. And he had chosen to pretend.
Even on his very last day on Earth, in it’s very last seconds. He’d ignored… everything…
He’d received the message “shut up” so many times, in so many different ways, and he’d ignored every single one…
He’d received the messages begging him to halt the cause of their suffering in so many different ways, and he’d ignored every single one…
Every second of his life he’d been trapping people in his horrible one-sided game with no means to escape…
Heye stared at the Sokotian’s crumpled body across from him, stuffed inside the chamber.
Goosebumps poured onto his exposed, bruised skin as the cold air wafted inward throught the window.
Slowly, Heye turned his head towards the screens…
They were now tinted red, undoubtedly the fault of when they had tumbled apon the dashboard, breaking almost every lever and button, firing machines randomly.
And apon the screens the Sokotians were curled with their hands plastered onto their brains—
He could sense it a moment before it came.
His muscles locked as a brutal barrage of pain exploded down every part of him. He roared, and in his frozen state could feel the now hundreds of bots spreading out over his brain, as though getting in formation to finally start it.
Or finish it.
He stood locked, unbearably suffering, until finally it stopped suddenly and his muscles came back under his control.
He barely blinked his eyes open and saw Floop writhing in his own pod, and turned his head to the blood-red screens, to see the excact same behaviour on the only stakeholders Floop had designed the bots for.
Dazed, Heye tried to think as hard as he could.
Think Mark! What will you still have after five hundred years?
He’d gone into Floop’s memories to find out how to turn it off…
But the nanobots had fatally interupted he process before he could catch up to the present day. Had it all been for naught?
Heye brought his hands up against his writhing head, placing his head against the cool stone floor…
This feeling. This position…
Haven’t I… seen you somewhere before? asked his brain.
I don’t know, he replied. I don’t get off planet much.
Heye opened his mouth and croaked upwards: “Machine. Off.”
There was no signal he was being listened to. No whirring, nothing in sight. Just a voice. Ceasely mechanical, with clearly no effort whatsoever put into making it seem “human”.
Heye’s heart did a flicker, as he tried despearately to remember what Floop had said to it…
Ah. What else would he say?
”I said what I meant.”
A beep sounded, and the other broken screen clicked on. Heye watched attentively from inside the chamber, his breathing sharp. Through the shattered glass he saw a dot in the middle of the screen.
The voice spoke.
"*Do you wish to deactivate Project Terrain?*"
`` Terrain. Terraform. That had to be the nanobots. “Yes.” said Heye.
A loading circle appeared on the screen, distorted by the cracks. Heye watched, his breath shallow and unbelieving.
”Error. System instabilities. Unable to disable Terrain without full system shutdown.”
For a second he panicked, but then realised nothing was actually wrong. “Shutdown.” he said.
”Affirmative. Shutting down.”
”Error: Instabilities detected with Project Blueprint.”
Blueprint? What on earth was project blueprint?
Heye racked his brain for everything that had been of relevance so far, and realised that a start that he was the blueprint.
But he wasn’t hooked up to the machine. So the only thing it could be describing was…
”Instablities: detected. Structural vulnerability: detected. Erratic firing: likely.”
Heye stared at the portal, it’s two metal spikes curling upwards. He only noticed truly now how it was incessently flickering.
The voice went on.
”System shutdown is likely to cause erratic firing. Safety level of Blueprint firing: fatal.”
A graphic appeared. Heye couldn’t quite be sure what it was showing, the image distored by the cracks in the screen. But he could make out the portal, and a chamber in front of it. Ah, he realised that the intent of the chamber wasn’t for trapping creators, but a loading bay for the portal. He watched as the graphic visualised the purple in the center of the portal widening, and finally exploding, whatever was in the chamber vanishing into it.
And when it finished, a slot in the floor opened up, rising from it a large lever.
Heye’s heart began pick up, more and more, compounding into a tremendous pounding within his chest.
The only way to disable the nanobots… was to shut down every system in the tower?
And doing so would make the portal fire?
And firing the portal was a one time thing?
The chamber Heye was in suddenly felt very small.
He hadn’t been thinking of home, not even a little. But the feeling wasn’t a resigned knowing that he would never get home, it had almost been more like a resigned knowing he would be. What would have been the point of thinking about home, since it was such an eventuality that he would reach it?
But once he left, he’d never be able to come back… He’d never see the Sokotians again…
His head exploded in another ghastly jolt of pain, the robots all still and ready, as though they were ready to apply final procedures any second…
Heye knelt over, clutching his stomach, breathing deeply.
Finally, stilled, his hands made his way to his pockets, taking out what he had taken so long ago. The useless, depressed button activating Project Terrain, as it were. He flipped it over, expecting the minimalist screen that had shown the green bar, snaking it’s way upwards to be far in the red, the moment to project completion so very close…
But instead it now showed an LED screen, with the numbers “3” and “0” appearing on it.
Heye didn’t understand…
Until it changed to 29.
His stomach dropped to the bottom of the bottom of the floor.
What was he talking about, missing the Sokotians? They wouldn’t be Sokotians in thirty seconds if he didn’t leave NOW!
He took the lever in both hands, the handle rough in his grip. He motioned it forwards, and found that it didn’t quite feel like he was activating anything as he moved it in that direction. It felt more like a crane. He looked around to see what it was shifting, and saw above the flickering portal was what almost resembled the arm of a microscope. Heye rotated the lever, and watched it slide over from pointing at Floop’s chamber to his own.
And the purple portal still flickered in the background, but under the glow of the microscope Heye felt the stream of connection like he never had before, as it fizzled against his skin.
Of course… the arm aimed the portal. It was up to the arm which chamber would be transported…
And the arm was up to Heye.
10 seconds left.
Heye felt the bots crawl across his brain, and he realised he was being stupid. What was he thinking? He was just going to leave, and enjoy his life back on earth, and leave the Sokotians to deal with Floop on their own?
With a terrible sinking in his stomach, Heye rotated the lever, the portal aimer facing at him, the warm glow dissapating.
For as long as Floop was around, and as long as he was alive, he was going to try to change them. Wherever anyone ended up, Floop had to be far, far away.
The nanobots began to burrow through his skull. There were hundreds, thousands, sliding over eachother in his brain. His vision flickered as he felt them bulging against the back of his eyes…
But what was Heye going to do? Banish Floop to a lonely rock among the stars, the only mind in sight? Was it not isolation that drove him crazy?
It was me.
He was the one who could choose. Who’d HAD the power to define what he himself said. And he had wielded it his entire life only to drive everyone crazy, and slumped across from Heye, bugs crawling over every inch of his body, was the result of those choices.
But where would Floop go? He couldn’t stay, and he’d die of loneliness wherever Heye sent him. Everywhere except…
The portal cackled ferociously, purple flames licking the ceiling. Heye gripped the switch as it began to violently shake in his hands.
No! Heye pulled the lever as fast as he can towards himself, the warm, flickering glow dowsing him once more. The portal could only fire once. It was him or Floop. He… he couldn’t stay on Sokotia forever… could he?
But— could Floop?
He looked at the alagmation of every person he had ever drove crazy by his indifference to their suffering, through his careful, incredible dance to obfuscate responsibility for the suffering he caused in persuit of his endless game…
Heye choked as the bugs crawled down his throat in the thousands, streaming out of his mouth. Apon the screen the Sokotians screamed in agony, their pain about to come to a permenant end…
They didn’t deserve Floop. And Floop didn’t deserve them…
He could do it. He had to do it.
He bathed in the warm glow of the portal one final time, the heavenly tingling battling ferociously with the unearthly rumbling of bugs in every crevice, every hole, every inch of skin, cleaving their way through his eyes, clawing over eachother within his eardrums, reading, preparing, almost—
Heye gripped the lever and ferociously swang it over, the arm dowsing him in a purple glow the second before his mind was forever changed— 1
”See ya chump.”
He pressed the lever down, the room exploding in a frenzy of purple energy. Heye slammed against the back of the chamber as the portal exploded.
And inside of him every live creature fell, his head heavy with the weight of a million dead flies…
Through the cracks in the glass he could just about make out the Sokotians as they stopped writhing, and lay slowly apon the ground.
Heye shut his eyes.
And confetti rained down from the ceiling.