“Get Off My Lawn” Garruk

Moving towards the Lorwyn five origin walkers, I wanted to cover one of my favourite characters to take the planeswalking mantle and run with it. Garruk is easily one of the most well developed characters that cover a very large and broad grey area when it comes to personalities. While his overall goal is narrow and simplistic, his implications in the story have been fairly complex. Also, despite being one of our most powerful planeswalkers (if Apex Predator’s mana cost is anything to go by), he’s easily one of the most prolific failures in the storyline. He is a lonesome solitary man with muscles the size of a bus, and yet the poor dude seems to get trounced from the beginning. He pretty much wanted to be left alone, and yet a brief encounter with one of our less caring characters has set him on a path of chaos and destruction that he never chose in the first place. Like Liliana, Garruk’s destiny thus far has almost been forced upon him.

He’s a relatively short character to detail, but an interesting one nonetheless. From an early age his charge is simplistic – always listen and trust nature. Garruk was possibly one of the most “pure” green planeswalkers and general characters around, honouring nature and strength above all, and most importantly respecting it for what it is. Instead of simply conquering beasts greater than him, he would honour them by “Connecting” them to himself. Unlike most green aligned characters, he is particularly impatient, and it is this trait that seems to cause Garruk most of his woes.

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His early life is similar to that of other original planeswalkers – he was raised by his father (a taskmage like Jaya), and on his tenth birthday his father taught him his first spell. As with all origin stories, the day they learn things tends to be the day their woes begin. A sheriff arrives to conscript Garruk into Faldus’ army. His father, Raklan, tells him to run and hide in the forest until he tells him it’s safe to return. Garruk spends weeks fleeing the soldiers through the forest, all while his father speaks to him through an artifact. It’s his father who originally tells him not to trust mankind, instead follow the reason of nature. Several years passed, and Garruk is essentially a wildling brought up by his own, now fierce, survival instincts. He’s bound numerous large creatures. He finds the men that seized his father, and rampages through the town with his herd of destruction. Garruk is then brought to the jail where his father died, but it had been part of his plan. While in the jail he summons a wurm to come and devour the sheriff, then adorns his helmet and returns to the wilds.

Interestingly, I don’t recall any evidence of how Garruk originally sparked; making him one of the few planeswalkers we don’t entirely know all the origins about. MaRo has recently confirmed on his blog that we’ll see more of him in the currently named project “Spark”.

Fast forward 480lbs of meat and 8ft in height and we’re on Shandalar, the source of everyone’s woes. Garruk is hunting a massive creature called the Ursoth with his big old band of summoned beasts, when Liliana turns up and kills one of them (deeming it to be an inconvenience). Enraged by her deed, he tracks her down and assaults her at the Onakke temple. Initially Garruk proves too strong and damn near kills Liliana, but she uses the Chain Veil and curses him, wracking his body and really messing up his summoning powers. In a desperate attempt to cure himself, he planeswalks to one of his most hated planes (civilisation, you see), Ravnica. He confronts Jace and demands he tell him where Liliana is. The curse sends Garruk into a supercharged rage and he comes within an inch of killing the mind mage when he suddenly comes back to his senses. Jace tells him Liliana’s last known location.

Number of lives Liliana has ruined: ??? +1

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It’s then insinuated that Garruk works as a bounty hunter for a Gorgon on an unknown plane in return for information on Liliana’s whereabouts, when he then gets word: Innistrad.

Now you have to understand Garruk at this point. He is as green and green can be, and his primary skill in life is binding and summoning creatures, and being one with nature. The effect of curse causes him constant and immense pain, and causes his summoned creatures do be disfigured and altogether suicidal since they can’t cope with their existence. The curse twists Garruk’s core identity, and has now forced him beyond his comfort zone to work with other races, leave the forests and venture into civilisation. He has had everything he knows and understands stripped from him. It’s like being a gifted surgeon, but every time you touch a patients organ, is dissolves into dust, and you’re forced to do the surgery in a pool club full of drunkard orangutans.

Unfortunately Garruk’s humiliation only gets worse from this point onwards. He walks to Innistrad and tracks Liliana to Nephalia, where he attempts to annihilate her once again, but is set upon by a swarm of ghouls. Despite easily dispatching the meatwave, Liliana escapes yet again. To be frank: he mad. The curse inflicts him some more, affecting his mind. He wanders in circles, yelling nonsense to anyone that crosses his path, including animals. He succumbs and ends up a wandering madman, three lost brain cells away from a vegetable.

The events of OG Innistrad take place, and Avacyn enacts the cursemute. While it doesn’t cure Garruk, it puts him back into remission and his sanity is returned. He decides to follow the trail that Liliana walked, but then abandons his pursuit in the hopes of finding the source of the cursemute, wanting to be cured once and for all. Now take note here: an uncursed Garruk would rather find a natural remedy to his cure than track down and kill the source of his curse. He is actively seeking a nonviolent solution to his issues. He ends up finding the town of Torbach and shelters in the house of a dead woman. Because Garruk is quite the large and beastly man, everyone in the town then assumes he’s the one that killed her. This brings him to the attention of Odric, who traps Garruk and goes to kill him, but not before Grete, the second in command, intervenes. Odric vows that Garruk will be thrown before Avacyn to stand trial. We get a brief glimpse of hope that Garruk might actually be cured. Odric drugs him and prepares to travel with the planeswalker to Thraben, but the curse returns in full swing, Garruk goes mad and then escapes the convoy.

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Things go south for Garruk, although he’s beginning to not to subtly accept his fate. The curse worsens, and while Garruk can’t summon beasts for toffee, his desire to hunt on his own strength increases significantly. Instead of just hunting down Liliana, Garruk (probably rightly) now views all planeswalkers as prey, finally breaking the barrier between hunter and outright serial planeswalker killer. Every planeswalker he kills strengthens him further, and what’s left of humanity slowly drifts away.

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Vronos, the “Grey Fencer” planeswalker, is contracted by Avacyn to find and return Garruk to her so she can help him. Vronos however is very quickly dispatched, and despite planeswalking away, Garruk tracks him and kills him rather easily. He takes Vronos’ filigree mask as a trophy. Now the curse is back in full swing, he has no intention of finding a nonviolent solution. In fact, he no longer wants a solution at all.

With the curse nearly fully complete, Garruk heads to Shandalar to complete his transformation in the Onakke temple. This transformation into a demon would have destroyed the plane itself, and is not so dissimilar to the events surrounding Ob Nixilis. Ob Nixilis of course was stopped by Nahiri after she implanted a hedron into the demon planeswalkers head, trapping him in his demon form, rendering him unable to travel. Jace decides to take action to stop Garruk’s transformation, so he masks himself as Liliana. The ruse didn’t work out so well, and Garruk explains to Jace that while he was cursed, he relished what he had become and simply wanted to be left alone. While Jace stops Garruk’s transformation with said hedron, Garruk tells Jace that if he does not heed his wishes, he’ll kill him the next time they meet. Jace leaves and Garruk relaxes. He had been projecting an air of power about him, although in reality he felt significantly weakened.

Garruk can’t catch a break, and as Jace leaves, another planeswalker arrives. This ice-wielding planeswalker mentions that he was hired by Vronos for a large sum, but then Garruk points out the mask trophy from the now dead Vronos. This unknown planeswalker tries to escape, but Garruk decapitates him, commenting on the deceased planeswalkers slowness. The point of no return has been reached, and Garruk’s transformation from pure green to green-black is essentially irreversible.

Garruk then heads off to an unknown destination, perhaps at last with some peace and quiet that he had longed for since he was ten (around thirty years ago), but with an entirely different agenda now on his mind, thanks to the meddling of other planeswalkers.

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MTG Flash Fan Fic – Rigging Runner

The captain sat studying their last course on a tattered boar skin map, one that had grown increasingly worn as orders and markers over the years had been placed and moved about. Much of it was faded and scratched out, but his eyes bore down on three small wooden figures signifying ships. Three lost ships all clumped in an area sixty miles off the cost of Ixalan. The first was a merchant vessel transporting goods pillaged from the mainland, on its way to a Brazen Coalition checkpoint. The second was a small frigate, a quick mercenary ship not built to withstand a drawn out battle, but one designed for speedy strikes and retreats. Its job was to scout the area, make a rescue if possible (the loot was priority) and get out. It had been a week since anyone had heard word from either crew. Finally the captain focused his attention on the third wooden figurine. Unlike the other two, this one was marked with red. Vampires.

Scouts had seen the vampire ship make sail in the general direction, but there was no word of a change in its course or it ever having reached a destination. All three ships had been lost at sea, no word of survivors or an explanation. The captain scratched at his scalp under his now skewed hat and curled his lips at the prospect of yet another fictitious curse wandering the lips of the locals. What he did not need was another patch of ocean upsetting the Coalition’s already superstitious trade lines across the ocean. It was his duty to clear the air once and for all. He could not fail where the others had, but the thought of the undead ship sent shivers down his spine. A glimmer of hope would soon arrive.

“Captain Nate! Life boat starboard!” The siren lookout wailed.

The captain leapt from his seat nearly knocking the wooden ships across the room and stormed out the galley and burst through the door. Half his crew was already throwing lines down to the drifting boat. He rushed across the deck and peered overboard. His hopes were dashed almost immediately. Below, climbing one of the lines, was a theatrically dressed animal – a monkey of some description, although altogether more gangly looking.

“He’s wearing the captain’s hat of the frigate we sent last week, captain.” First Officer Bracker muttered. “Probably a pet…”

The captain sighed, and offered out a hand to the castaway. It looked altogether well about its wits, and even had a makeshift hooked sword bound around its waist. Its eyes darted about, unsure of the captain and crew’s intentions. It let out a gentle snort of air and took the captain’s hand and allowed itself to be led away to his cabin.

“Captain?”

The captain stopped and turned, animal in tow which was now peering widely at the first office.

“Yes Bracker?”

“Do you think it was the invaders from Torrezon? Will… Will we be setting upon vampires?”

“We’ll find out in a few miles, a life boat can’t have drifted far in these currents. It’s either vampires, or whatever that vessel was transporting from Ixalan got out.” The captain resumed his escort.

“Prepare the men for a fight.” He muttered.

“Aye captain!”

***

The crew had immediately set to powdering the guns and stocking up the canons. Each man was armed with a musket and sabre; half a dozen others were carrying rope and hooks for boarding. A man needed a certain kind of madness to board a vampire ship willingly.

The captain had spent the last few hours seeing to his maps, rolling over the possibilities in his mind. All the while the creature in the hat had simply sat on the far table, gazing out the window to an endless horizon of water. It had quickly accepted a few bananas and dried bread, but resumed its watch over nothing. That was when it grew restless, it began huffing and grumbling and shifting on the spot. The captain looked out above the creature and spotted a ship – sails and rudder stuck on hard left, endlessly circling a spot of ocean amongst the wrecks of three other ships.

“Bracker!” He shouted. “Ship! Three miles Port!”

Footsteps stomped beyond the door and the men began barking orders at one another. Ignoring the small animal still pacing in his room, the captain ran out the door to join his crew, and headed immediately for the boat wheel.

“Lookout, I need eyes on movement. Bracker, set the port guns at twelve degrees!”

“Port guns, twelves degrees. NOW!” Bracker shouted across at the deck hands.

It was a flurry of orders and activity as they sailed closer to the out of control ship, when finally the ship’s lookout relayed some jarring information.

“Captain, the ship is… abandoned. There are bodies in the water, human and vampire. There are more of those, creature things too.”

The crew stopped silent. The captain’s eyes narrowed, his brain trying to make sense of the situation.

“Wait… captain. There’s another-” The siren’s voice was cut off as a single canon went off on the careening ship, blowing the lookout off his perch and into the water.

The drifting ship turned towards them. The captain seized a spyglass and focused closely on the ship’s deck. He scanned across, not a single member of crew in sight. Then his eyes drifted off towards the person holding the wheel. Only it wasn’t a person. It was one of those damned creatures, cutlass in hand, a pirate’s waistcoat misbuttoned across its chest.

“Bracker… the creature. Where is it?” The captain swallowed. His face was dull with realisation that had come too late.

“Why sir?” his first officer was practically pleading with him.

“They’re not damned monkeys. We were told about these months ago by Lannery. They’re goblins.”

“ALL CANONS F-”

“BANANAS.” A screeching voice shouted across to the incoming ship.

The crews’ eyes stretched upward to the sails, the goblin with the captain’s hat was now leaping across the wooden poles, slashing through the ropes as it went.

“BIG GUNS AND BANANAS.” It shouted once more as the oncoming ship crashed through the side of the vessel.

Dozens of goblins burst out of the centre hold of the enemy ship like a wave of locusts, sweeping across Captain Nate’s ship, slashing blindly in their wake felling friend and foe alike. There was no order, no plan, only to destroy for the sake of destruction.

A goblin leapt onto Captain Nate’s shoulders, a shirt sleeve tightly stretched around its waist like a skirt and an eye patch strapped across its belly button.

“THE HAT IS MINE!”

Rigging Runner

Liliana, Crumbling Oppressor

Let’s move on to another one of the nu-Origin five walkers, one that takes on the role of Persecutor in our Karpman Drama Triangle. Here we dive into the seriously mentally ill persona of Liliana Vess, whom I can find numerous mental health parallels in history, most notably in John Nash, the famous Mathematician. In order for the Drama Triangle to arise, a person must take on the role of Victim or Persecutor. Our first example of this occurrence is between our focus character, Liliana, and future Victim, Jace Beleren. Persecutors typically blame everyone else for everything, insisting something is their fault. Persecutors are typically controlling (Liliana has successfully bent the Gatewatch to her desires), blaming, critical, oppressive, angry and superior (we know Liliana has a serious god complex stemming from her dabbling in the dark arts). Each participant in this triangle takes on their role by acting upon their own selfish needs – something Liliana has done since day 0.

Let’s begin.

Liliana grew up on the most important (arguably) plane in the multiverse, Dominaria. Her father was a general and ruler, possibly for the Forward Order (a load of chaps fighting some dark force, possibly Belzenlok’s cabal). She had a name for herself as a bit of a hussy (that’s slang for hoe), and because of daddy’s extremely high ranking profile, this would inevitably bring on family meetings of “you’re bringing shame to my name”. Liliana cared little of her reputation, so from her absolute origins, we’re told she pretty much doesn’t care about anyone or anything other than herself. We also discover she’s a somewhat gifted sorceress/wizard whatever you want to classify her as. Possibly a cleric, I guess? She learned the healing arts from a lass called Lady Ana, similar to Gideon’s Hixus, however being the blasé cleric that she was, she thought necromancy would assist in her healing career. It’s an odd parallel to draw between two opposites but then I know nothing of the dark arts or restoration so who am I to judge her conclusions. She wanted a shortcut to be better, because that’s just Liliana. The shortest and simplest solution is always best, a self-destructive behaviour that will follow her and essentially rule her life from this point onwards.

Her father’s enemies corrupted her brother Josu with some sort of curse. Now this is where a crackpot theory comes in. If indeed her father’s enemies were the cabal under the rule of Belzenlok, then it ties one of Liliana’s four demons into her storyline long before she makes her pacts with them. One might posit that Liliana’s life had already been woven by a scheme spanning her entire life. This leads her to a test by Lady Ana, which in turn leads her to the Raven Man. That leads her to Bolas, who then brokers the deals with her four demons, including Belzenlok, which then follows on to the Chain Veil storyline where the Raven Man then takes charge of her future interests. So whose scheme is Liliana’s life led by? Bolas, or this mysterious Lim DulRaven Man? Anyway, Lady Ana tells her she needs to acquire Esis root to cure her brother. Her father’s enemies have conveniently burned down the grove where this tree grows.

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She learns this when a curious man appears with the information. He then encourages Liliana to use her necromantic powers to revive the tree and make a potion out of it. Seems legit. It is at this point we can conclude Liliana is quite young and naïve, since undoubtedly a present day Liliana would have easily seen past this and probably let her brother die before raising him as a servant. Unfortunately Liliana loves her shortcuts, and loves to prove people wrong, so despite warnings from Lady Ana, she uses it on her brother. It cures him, but basically turns him into a shambling horror.

Pause.

A late teens early twenties girl, with little to no care for reputation or anyone but herself, zero desire for strict rules and guidelines, has taken her first massive shortcut. This in turn has forced her to witness her own family in a state of undeath, then forcing her to kill said undead brother. This is akin to you saying “damn the doctors” and giving your big sister cancer with the “best intentions”, then being forced to euthanize her. That is entirely fucked up, and very much easy to gloss over as a reader interpreting fantasy fiction. She sparks, and ends up on Innistrad – plane of zombies, stitched abominations and general gloom and doom horror. If any plane epitomises a person’s past nightmares, it is a perfect fit for Liliana. But she embraces it instead of running away. Despite her trauma she remains headstrong, it seems.

She studies under vampires and liches, becomes a master necromancer, but she stops short. They recommend she joins them in death fully to master necromancy, but the trauma of what her brother became stops her from fully committing to her path. She is not entirely without sense, and like Tezzeret, is living life by pure instinct for survival.

Eventually Sorin discovers she’s on Innistrad, and Sorin is a very old, very powerful and very solitary planeswalker that suffers no fools. He utterly stomps Liliana, to the point he deems her too paltry a threat to deal with. He allows her to be a guest on his home plane and play nice, or he’ll kill her. Just ask Nahiri how that goes. So the plane she’s adopted as her home is now yet another metaphorical set of rules that will remind her of her father. She returns to Dominaria after she’s confident she’s powerful enough to take on the Raven Man, but he miraculously escapes. Yet another failure for Vess.

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Between then and Ravnica, it’s revealed that the mending happened, and Liliana is no longer all powerful, or immortal. Being the vain, shortcut taker that she is, she mixes up with Bolas and brokers a deal with a demon for more power. She uses that deal to make another, and another until her soul is eventually beholden by no more than four demons. In exchange for youth and power, she must serve the demons, and this is where she gets her tattoos from, eternally reminder her and everyone else that Liliana sold her soul for life eternal.

After some time, Liliana becomes mixed in with Bolas’/Tezzeret’s Infinite Consortium, sort of as a freelancer I suppose. After Jace defects from the group, Liliana is tasked with tracking him down. She befriends Jace and his accomplice Kallist (whom Jace will later swap consciousness with), and then has an affair with Jace. She stays loyal to Jace through a number of bizarre happenings, including ye olde consciousness swap story. It’s then revealed she was using Jace in order to remove Tezzeret as the leader of the Infinite Consortium. Liliana had sold her soul to Nicol Bolas of all people (just ask Tezzeret how that went), and this was one of her many tasks.

Liliana is altruistic. She dislikes rules and regulations, but now finds herself under the thumb of a 25,000 year old elder dragon planeswalker, and four demons that lay claim to her soul. In true Liliana fashion, she has ideas on how she can most easily escape said deals in the bluntest ways imaginable, but she hasn’t quite had the push to get her ego that big yet. Enter Kothophed and the Chain Veil.

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Kothophed calls in a favour, and Liliana must obey. She’s sent to retrieve the Chain Veil, and ancient artifact from the now extinct Onnake civilisation on Shandalar. On her way, she’s attacked by one of Garruk’s Packleaders and kills it. My main man Garruk witnesses this, and decides she’s a target. Liliana retrieves the Veil and then Garruk attacks. Using the surprisingly powerful artifact, Liliana very easily sends Garruk on a Shandalar escape trajectory, and begins to muse at how much power is at her fingertips now. She wanders to a fortress on a random plane and utterly annihilates it, because the best way to test an artifact belonging to a race that is now entirely dead is to use it to wipe out another. She considers, and the urges to release herself from the thrall of Kothophed is too great, so she planeswalks and blast the demon to high hell. Her tattoos begin to bleed, which disturbs her somewhat. In true “simplest solution is best” she resolves that in order to make this pain stop, she’ll just kill the rest of her demons.

So, Liliana has gone from accidentally killing her brother with good intentions, to an egotistical maniac hell bent on returning her old power to her by any means necessary, even if it means permanently scarring her young but otherwise immortal body. That includes senselessly dispatching a demon that had a claim to your soul. Long term plans are not Liliana’s strong suit. Unlike Bolas, Liliana is a very short sighted, short term planner. What makes Liliana different from every other oldwalker is that she simply wants to be left alone to her own devices. While she doesn’t initially crave for the rule of planes or infinite power and wiping out all other rivals, she does want to live forever and be beautiful at that. She just wants to do what she wants as and when she decides to do it. Liliana Vess of origins is what we’d call a sociopath. Liliana Vess of post mending is what we call a psychopath. The key difference? Sociopaths don’t know what they’re doing is wrong. Psychopaths do, they simply don’t care.

Concerned by the bleeding of her tattoos, the Chain Veil, and her fate thus far, she returns to the plane of the Onnake. She resurrects the body of an old wise man who knew of them. The town is none too pleased with a necromancer, and do what any other old time populace would do: they chase her into a pile of wood (a barn) and burn it down. The man she raised begins speaking cryptic riddles about Liliana while preventing the flames from taking her. Just as she’s about to release her body to the sweet abyss, the corpse is revealed to actually be the Raven Man. He uses what appears to be the same potion as the one Liliana used on her brother, and her tattoos all turn the same colour and she is healed. In typical grateful Liliana fashion, she thanks the Raven Man by stabbing him and planeswalking away with the Chain Veil. I mean, stabbing your saviour is a bit of a dick move.

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Liliana, enthralled by her experience decides to annihilate some more demons because she doesn’t have a better idea right now. She heads back to Innistrad to kill Griselbrand but can’t find him since he’s stuck in the Helvault. Garruk shows up and tries to splat her, but Innistrad isn’t short of local meatshields, so she sends a few dozen zombies to keep the guy occupied and escapes. At this stage Garruk is simply a nuisance in comparison to her other problems. Like a big, meaty bad penny with an axe the size of a tree. She heads to Thraben for answers while its under siege by the duo Gisa and Geralf. Mikaeus the Lunarch has already been killed in the battle, and so with her usual respect for the fallen, Liliana raises him from the dead to get her answers. She learns of the Helvault.

Flavourfully black cannot do anything to artifacts unless your name is Geth. It can however demand sacrifices. Liliana casts a spell that forces Thalia, the acting commander of the defence of Thraben, to either sacrifice her soldiers, or crack open a cold one the Helvault. Being the white-white character she is, Thalia smashes open the vault and all the demons (and Avacyn) are freed. Oh and Nahiri. Yeah, you can blame memerakul on Lilana kind of. Liliana tracks down big old G, slaughtering everything in her path (including angels, Liliana really hates angels). Using the Chain Veil, Griselbrand is no more. Easy? Nope.

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The Chain Veil starts whispering to her, and this is when our all-powerful necromancer begins to remind me of the woes that beset John Nash. Now John Nash was a peculiar bloke in the beginning, but he was also a mathematical prodigy. This led him to massive success in his field, but the guy strived for more. Eventually people began approaching him for some pretty wild and exotic uses of his services, and wanting more to his life than occasionally teaching and working on cryptography, he agreed. This went on for many years, until eventually he was committed. It turned out that all these years, he had been working for people in his mind, doing jobs that didn’t exist, even imagining up his own roommate who he talked to and about to others frequently. He was utterly convinced that these people were real for years. Imagine having a best friend for a decade and then being told he didn’t exist. After stints in an out of psychiatric help, he maintained his sharp intelligence, but was besieged on a daily basis by his own brain, trying to convince him these people were real and these tasks he wanted to work on were a fabrication. Now, John Nash wasn’t aware of this until somebody else told him and convinced him. He had work colleagues, doctors, and a wife. Liliana has nothing, nobody. She’s hearing voices from the Chain Veil, she keeps seeing this Raven Man, so she’s convinced that the spirits in the Veil are real, and the Raven Man is some kind of planeswalking capable asshole of some kind. Like John Nash, Liliana is powerful, driven, and convinced of herself.

She heads back to Shandalar to find her own answers. She’s then confronted by an angel guarding the entrance and basically melts the thing, all the while it mumbles than Liliana has become a vessel of the Onnake spirits wanting to release themselves. She then has a vision of the Onnake’s extinction event, again seeing the Raven Man as an architect of their destruction. She indicates to the spirits talking to her that she’d quite like to learn such a spell. Her cockiness only grows from this point. She reaches the alter where she found the veil, but her own body refuses to put it back. She raises an Onnake skeleton to obey her command to return the artifact, but it also refuses to comply. Upon de-animating the skeleton, it throws the veil back onto her. By now Liliana should probably recognise when her body is being hijacked. An Onnake spirit materialises in front of her and tells her she’s the vessel of the veil of deceit. She tries to kill the spirit using the Chain Veil, and at long last realises that the thing is slowly damaging her body. Mentally defeated, she planeswalks away. For once, Liliana accepts her fate. Briefly.

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She heads back to Jace to manipulate her Victim once more, trying to persuade him to help her kill her two final demons. Back to that old chestnut. He’s angry with the way she dealt with Garruk at this stage however, as he and Nahiri have separately tried to help the cursed beast master. She invites Jace to dinner, but it’s interrupted by Gideon begging for help on Zendikar. Jace immediately accepts, and then Liliana moans how he’ll spare time for his friends but not his wife – in essence. She’s furiously jealous that somebody else can manipulate him to their every whim. Jace informs her bluntly, that Gideon asked nicely, whereas Liliana tried to seduce him. Liliana’s façade begins to crumble from here on, and when a chronically narcissistic person loses the power of their fake front, things begin to unravel. They begin to see a need to reaffirm their role to themselves and others. As a necromancer and narcissist, Liliana is beginning to develop a god complex, and the combined presence of the Chain Veil and the coming Emrakul are only too keen to feed it.

Back on Innistrad Liliana is sulking in her mansion. Jace tries to escape two werewolves after arriving on the plane, and Liliana uses some zombies to drive them off. Jace informs her that he’s searching for Sorin, and being a human of pure survival, Liliana warns Jace that that may not be such a good idea. Jace goes to the manor, goes a bit insane, and then returns to blame Liliana for everything that happened. He tries to break her brain a bit, but the Raven Man that is quite obviously inside her head protects her and tells her to kill Jace. As it happens, the Raven Man is quite afraid of Jace, because of course he’s a mind mage, and might find him lurking inside Liliana’s head should he delve too deeply. Liliana then tries to get some generic geistmage to exorcize the Onnake spirits from the Chain Veil with a witchbane orb, but unsurprisingly it does sweet F.A. Honestly at this point she’s desperate, and I think even she didn’t believe it would work, but she’s willing to try anything to escape attachments to anything. Vess just doesn’t like to be tied down, unless it’s with Jace’s cloak. Giggity.

Emrakul arrives, and the Gatewatch and Thraben are under attack by masses of Eldrazi horrors. Convincing herself that she doesn’t need Jace, Liliana tells herself that she needs the Gatewatch to need her, so that she can use them to kill her final two demons. Realistically both of these are true. She’s desperate, but also an Oppressor. A team of four young neo-walkers are probably just as easily impressed upon as she was when she was younger. Equally four mages with their own specialties are a handy tool for killing demons and not getting your hands too dirty. That is how an Oppressor sees these people – tools. Liliana raises a colossal army of zombies to drive back the horrors and Emrakul, she even thinks so highly of herself that she can take on the titan, calling herself Innistrad’s “Last Hope”. As it turns out, she quickly learns that the Chain Veil isn’t quite that powerful, and Emrakul begins to overpower her. The Chain Veil as well as the Raven Man pretty much begs her to escape with her life, thinking that they can’t possibly win against this thing. Multiple personality disorder aside, Liliana chooses her own fate. Miraculously Emrakul uses Tamiyo to seal herself into Innistrad’s moon and the whole group survives. Jace asks Tamiyo to join the Gatewatch (she thankfully declines) and instead, as second choice, they ask Liliana to join. That worked out well didn’t it Vess? She agrees to their childish terms, knowing full well she has no intention of following their code unless it happens to coincide with some demons.

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Liliana is short on patience however, and has a subtle distaste for wasting time on things that don’t concern her. The Kaladesh story comes to fruition, and Liliana notes a possibly entry into the good books of the highly impressionable and entirely chaotic Chandra Nalaar. The arrival of Dovin Baan triggers Chandra’s fury at the Consulate on her home plane, and Liliana plays on it. She takes Chandra under her wing, concealing the usual Oppressor tendencies, and instead takes on a role of Rescuer. She encourages Chandra to share her story, and then tells Chandra she should take revenge on Baral, Emperor Palpatine style.

They come across Tezzeret and Liliana pretty much flips her lid. She tells Chandra that Tezz is dangerous (and we know he’ll do just about anything to survive, same as Liliana), and they need to retreat. The rest of the Gatewatch arrive and scald Liliana for flying off with Chandra so fleetingly. Not wanting to risk her importance in the group, she heads back to her favourite tool and vouch man Jace, convincing him and Gideon to come to Kaladesh. Basically Jace will stick up for her when she does Liliana things. Who needs to convince a team themselves when they can have the defacto leader do it for them?

They join forces with the rebel scumrenegades and take on the consulate, blowing up some ships, confronting Tezzeret in the arena, only to have him escape and rob all the inventions from the fair. Liliana dispatches some troops rather too permanently for Gideon, he moans, but she snaps back at him as though he were a naïve child. You were like him too Vess, at some stage. She says she needs to strike at Tezzeret directly, because he won’t fight fair. She reveals that she’s a little more than weak in the knees for Jace, and wants to hurt Sucker-T for hurting Jace all those years ago. Liliana has somehow grown empathy. She heads off with Saheeli and finds Rashmi, the creator of the planar bridge, and brings her back to the renegades. The Gatewatch are now aware that Tezzeret has interplaner travel tech.

She convinces Gids to let her take on Tezzeret, as a cunning distraction for the Gatewatch to destroy the Planar Bridge. Suddenly she opts to use undead minions to “scare away” the consulate soldiers instead of killing them, leading us to briefly believe she’s taking the Gatewatch’s non-lethal approach some serious consideration. She makes it to Tezzeret and they then commence the most underwhelming planeswalker battle in the history of Magic™. Tezzeret initially believes Bolas sent Liliana to check on his progress. He then informs him He then tells Liliana Bolas is hidden on Amonkhet, where her third demon Razaketh is located. Before she can finish him off, the Gideon-Chandra missile hits and blows the whole fucking spire to bits. Tezzeret escapes with the core of the planar bridge. Liliana then suggests they head straight to Amonkhet to take Bolas on without giving him chance to prepare. What she actually means is, come to this god forsaken plane so I can kill my demon and escape while you all get fisted by the most powerful (known) planeswalker in the multiverse.

On Amonkhet more Chain Veil shenanigans ensue. Liliana gets eaten by a giant worm, but reveals to the Gatewatch that she used the Chain Veil to decompose the worm from the inside. What actually happened was the Raven Man assumed control over her body to prevent her death, using the power of the Chain Veil to kill it. They come across the gods, and the city of Naktamun, and she takes note of the mummified servants. She also derides the gods, as the only gods she knew were hubristic planeswalkers. She should know, she was one of them pre-mending.

Amonkhet.png

The Gatewatch continues with the story, while Liliana… gets fed grapes and uses the mummified servants to her advantage. The Raven Man returns, warning her that she had gotten soft. The voice inside her head has noticed her change from egotistical psychopath to egotistical psychopath with a developing conscience. Jace approaches and he vanishes again, hoping to avoid his cover being blown. They follow one of Liliana’s shades and discover Razaketh’s true involvement in the afterlife and the plane itself. The mummies set upon them and they escape.

The gate opens when the Second Sun rests between Bolas’ horned statue, and Razaketh is revealed. This demon is vastly more powerful than the previous two. He can assume direct control over Liliana’s body (it’s become the town bicycle at this point). It’s a brutal reminder that Liliana is never truly free until every person involved in her soul’s enslavement is ended. He toys with her, but the Gatewatch come to her aid. They distract her long enough to raise some undead crocodiles and tear apart and eat the demon. It’s noted viscerally that Liliana actively relishes the act of consuming the demon via the animals she has raised, and brings us back to the harsh reality that despite all the pretence, Liliana is still cracked mentally. Bolas appears, whips the Gatewatch’s collective asses, and gives Liliana the option to betray her friends and await his command, or die. Liliana is a being of selfish desires, but most importantly, the raw desire to simply survive. She escapes, with other members of the Gatewatch as witnesses to her betrayal. A harsh reminder that she is not allowed attachments to potential Rescuers, and any attempts to do so will be met by harsh consequences. It’s also a blunt reminder that she is still at the mercy of Bolas and her remaining demon, Belzenlok.

Vault.jpg

She planeswalks to Dominaria to kill her final demon. As a writer, I am fully aware that the death of Belzenlok may not yield the results she hopes; in fact things may only grow more complicated for our psychopathic Oppressor. She is so singularly focused on one goal; she cannot see the forest for the trees. The only solution to the actors of the Drama Triangle is to deprive them of their payoff. Liliana’s superiority is crumbling, her authority is waning in the face of multiple actors within the group, and the blame has shifted significantly since their encounter with Bolas. Liliana’s role as an Oppressor is coming to an end. Three solutions remains – she leaves the triangle as a better person, she becomes a Victim, or, most likely, she ceases living.

Gideon, Walking Hubris

As with any dysfunctional family there are three main psychological profiles. We have our Persecutor (See: Liliana, Bolas, Nixilis), our Victim (See: Jace, Chandra), and our Rescuer (Gideon, Nissa). Each of these roles within a family are acceptable within certain parameters, however the triangle can become one of extremes, where each personality can become toxic, a situation which I believe our Gatewatch has already reached. The first profile we’re going to run with is that of our Rescuer and most bland empty hero within the modern storyline: Gideon Jura, or as he was once called, Kytheon Iora.

Gideon’s origin story sets him up as a fairly interesting character with deep potential character arcs, however in some of the earlier stories and within some of the more recent stories, he has comically been referenced as “meatslab” both by the writers and the readers. The general consensus is that the most hate is directed towards Jace; however I find my own distaste quickly honing in on Magic’s most one-dimensional character besides ol’ Ob Nixilis. Recent stories including the fight against Emrakul indicate an internal conflict with Gideon, struggling to deal with his past, however every other piece of writing indicates that he has about as much personal depth as a potato.

In the Karpman drama triangle, the Rescuer’s typical line is “Let me help you”, very much orientated in the “my line of thinking is correct and if you could just see things my way and follow me everything will be better”. Rescuer’s feel implicit guilt if they are not able to rescue someone, yet their incessant behaviour has dire effects. It keeps the Victim role dependant on them as a Rescuer (which we see with Chandra throughout the story), and also gives a Victim permission to fail. Fundamentally, the act of rescuing a Victim moves the focus from them to the Victim – this in turn allows them to ignore their own anxiety and issues. The pivotal role of being a Rescuer is that their primary interest is in avoiding their own issues. The Victim enables the Rescuer and vice versa, until a point when either reduces their profile in said roles. When this occurs with the Victim, the Rescuer will still relentlessly pursue issues with a victim to enable themselves.

Sound familiar?

How did old meatslab become such a toxic white aligned character? As with any other psychological profile: childhood trauma.

Kytheon Iora

Wizard’s had a strange obsession with removing any historical information on most Origins walkers, and I mean OG walkers, before the nu-Origins stories started. Jace fled Vryn with no mention of family at all due to memories being erased, at least until recently with the stories mentioning a red-headed mother. Liliana killed her brother. Ajani found enlightenment following his brother’s death and the inability to integrate with his tribe. Sorin was ageless like his grandfather who thus far has been handwaved away as “being on Innistrad”, no mention of anyone else. Nissa, well, she had quite the number of retcons from her origins to her nu-origins, but little was mentioned. Chandra’s parents were assumed dead (now we’ve had a reunion and her mother conveniently telling her to get the hell off Kaladesh because she should explore (actually she did tonnes of damage and for Christ’s sake just go away and take your meddling kid friends with you)). What of Gids? Well his father left before he was born, and his mother died when he was “young”. A convenient subplot to allow an Origins Five walker to roam the Multiverse unanchored by such troubles as family. It’s also a fairly good starting point for childhood trauma, since growing up with no parents has a tendency to affect one’s moral character.

But noooooo, not our puritan child Gids. Little Kytheon joined a gang and became it’s leader, encouraging them to do good-bad things instead of bad-bad things. Steal from the rich and give to the poor, Wizard’s took a fairly hefty leaf out of Robin Hood’s book to make early Gideon some sort of saint in the making. This is usually a pretty difficult kind of character to build without some outside influence, but the plot corrects itself by providing one in Hixus, the Prison Warden. This is where I can only describe Gideon as a Scottish Sheepdog (or Border Collie if you prefer) – highly energetic, intelligent, but mostly problematic if you don’t focus their unending energy to do things constantly.

Scratch that, Gideon has no intelligence to observe.

Mini meatslab kept trying to escape, so our teacher of humble origins arrives to put our boy back on his path Karate Kid style. Only instead of Judo chops, he gives the damn boy a whip made of blades and death, like the ultimate papercut sword from Eldrazi hell. Nothing screams hieromancy and justice like rending your flesh to shreds. Hixus recognised that our lad with the personality of a peanut was probably a planeswalker, and when Gids walked to Bant and back, that was the point when he decided to gift him his old master’s weapon of whirling death. As it turns out Hixus’ old master was a planeswalker too, a Hieromancer no less, and this is where the plot neatly ties in Gideon and Chandra. Hixus tells supermeatboyman that his old master was killed by a pyromancer. Hoh boy do I hope it was Jaya Ballard. Anyway, onto the deep and meaningful story before Gideon becomes a faceless cog in the machine of colours.

Gideon is now Indestructible. Because the well-known issue of “Superman” characters isn’t a well detailed subject on how not to write a character.

The city ends up under attack; Hixus frees the prisoners willing to defend the place, including Gideon (still called Kytheon at this point). Gideon saves the day (supah-Gids) with his old pals the Irregulars. Heliod, the God of all things white then champions him and gives him his spear to defeat Erebos’ Titan. Using the spear Gideon succeeds (of course…), and then he gets a bit cocky. It’s at this point that in most Hercules plots, the young lad wizens up and humbles himself. Not in this case. Gids, with his newfound big balls decides to throw the spear at Erebos…

Kytheon Irregular.jpg

Ya dun goofed.

Erebos redirects it and kills all the Irregulars. HAH. Gideon is shocked and appalled. SHOCKED I SAY. He planeswalks away to Bant to hide his shame and become a faceless soldier, his default setting in all things. The locals can’t say Kytheon Iora for some reason so he gets called Gideon Jura. Remember in my last article we were talking about name’s being of significant psychological influence? We’ll this is just one neat way of running away from one’s past.

Now we delve into canon but not canon but half confirmed The Purifying Fire. Now references were made to this book in recent stories, but this is basically where Gideon meets up with a big bad pyromancer and she very conveniently confirms how reckless and dangerous they are. It then becomes a story of misunderstanding and a whole lotta death actually, as well as a whacky trip to Diraden that follows a similar plot to Raiders of the Lost Ark – essentially Gids and Chandra dick about with cunning plans and stuff but they don’t really matter in the end, and despite the constant reminder that Chandra doesn’t have access to her mana, she somehow casts a spell anyway and kills the glorious leader Prince Velrav.

The plot is a bit boring (like Star Wars Episode I with trade negotiations), but we notice a link between Gideon being a member of an order called the Order of Heliud (geddit, Heliod?), which shows the evil side of white. Essentially Chandra wanders about causing mass destruction accidentally on purpose and just sorta whoopsies a few buildings and living beings, all the while Gideon watches in his typical judgemental fashion. They get close, serendipitous mistakes are made. Gideon ends up taking her to see the head of the Order, Walbert. Walbert goes on about his magical Purifying fire and how she needs to confess all her sins or it’ll burn her alive.

Gideon sends her down the stairs to the cave with Walbert in it and walks away; assuming things will totally go fine.

PLOT ARMOUR STRIKES AGAIN, IT’S SUPER EFFECTIVE.

Things do not go fine.

Purifying

Miraculously Chandra bears all to the Purifying fire about her being responsible for the death of her family (she’s technically lying because this information is later retconned. Purifying Fire cannot in fact break the fourth wall and cross reference with later information). So she doesn’t die. Instead she gets filled with a bunch of superpowers and obliterates the whole fucking cave and the temple above, killing everyone but herself. Gideon runs in and sees her passed out, and says he’ll let her live if she leaves and never comes back.

So a pyromancer, whom he was warned about, destroys Gideon’s second chance at being in a stable position within a mostly evil (but white!) but well-ordered group. Being the super nice guy he is, he lets said person leave. Welcome to the budding Victim-Rescuer relationship. But he doesn’t just like to Rescue people, oh no. It’s gotta be bigger than that. Meatslab whiteboy wants to rescue some planes. Two at a time no less. He follows Chandra’s trail to Zendikar because he misses the chaotic child because reasons. He witnesses the release of Memerakul and then fucks off to Ravnica to find a group of planeswalkers on Ravnica that can help.

But… a group of planeswalkers on Ravnica doesn’t exist yet. So I don’t really know where he heard this idea from. Regardless, he stays on Ravnica and finds the Boros. Yet another delightful White group he wants to align himself with because Gideon just needs that strong and stable leadership to point him in a direction and apply some good old white liberty to anyone looking in dire need of “correction”. He discovers over time that the red aspect of the Boros is somewhat alarming to him, so he considers buggering off with the Gateless (people without a guild) so he can be a pariah-on-a-pedestal for them instead.

It’s at this point I begin to wonder just how easily the Nazi regime might have been able to recruit our indestructible peanut of a planeswalker. Frankly, at this stage, Gideon was one heil away from “just following orders”.

In typical Gideon fashion, he continues to try and save the poor people of Multiverse all at once. He’s fighting two fronts on Zendikar and Ravnica because he thinks he’s the only important planeswalker in the universe. And to him, frankly, the entire universe needs a bit of Gideon in its life.

In all his travels, he has clearly not come across the word hubris. (If he did, he probably tried to rescue it).

Aurelia

Within the Zendikar storyline a great many things happen, mainly to Gideon’s ego. First he goes to recruit Jace and Chandra. Jace accepts, Chandra doesn’t. They arrive just in time to see Sea Gate get banana’d. Gids rescues Jori En in hopes that she can help Jace. Those two bugger off to The Eye of Ugin while Gideon stays behind and builds and army of survivors. Hubris kicks in, and he decides to go on the offensive and take back Sea Gate. This. Fucking. Guy. Kiora, a female blue-green aligned Gideon in the making arrives and help Gids and Co. drive the Eldrazi scum from the city. Nissa also helped because creative needed a way to shoehorn her in gently. They all party hard, fuelled by Gideon’s inherent cockiness. Basically Gideon has surrounded himself with people of his own ideals, a self-made echo chamber. Then Ulamog arrives, and despite a magical plan made by the planeswalkers and various legendary characters being thrown around, as well as an epic tentacle punch by Gideon, Kozilek comes to help the nearly-trapped Ulamog and wrecks shit. Even Kiora, asshole number two, who also thought she could take on a god, gets a lesson when her precious sea monster gets sautéed by Kozilek.

Ob Nixilis released Kozilek and comes in a wrecks the three planeswalkers despite Gideon being…well, indestructible. He tortures them, two dimensional bond villain style, and Chandra comes in a coolwhips the demon’s ass. Nixilis leaves “I’ll get you next time gadget” style.

Then the enormous travesty of the OGW storyline happens and the four of them kill two Eldrazi titans even after Kiora does a pre-revision Nissa and is all like “let ‘em go guys! They’ll just run away!” They each pledge oaths to over exaggerate their capabilities to the entire multiverse from that moment on, and Gideon essentially makes himself a defacto leader alongside Jace.

Are you absolutely sick of him yet? It’s OK he gets a slap on the wrist soon, and, well… penetrated.

Defeat
That’s his “oh” face.

The team gets a lesson on how they can’t use the same tactic twice, and Gideon soon discovers that while he is indestructible, he is not, in fact, a wall. They get overrun by Eldrazi horrors on Innistrad after a long and lengthy emo storyline involving another two childish white aligned planeswalkers. Liliana comes along and rescues them all, kind of, while Jace does the actual rescuing, following by Tamiyo doing the actual actual rescuing. Basically Emrakul seals herself while forcing the Gatewatch to live through their nightmares. Gideon’s? Watching his irregulars get pistol whipped by Erebos as she asks him what his goddamn issue is. Gideon asks Tamiyo if she would like the pleasure of joining their entirely flawless and cringe inducing team, and she sensibly declines. Instead we get Liliana. Gids is none too happy, but even representation of colour identities dictates we needed a black aligned character in the Gatewatch.

Kaladesh happens, Chandra and Gids get close, as do Nissa and Chandra. We see potential for an awkward love triangle but then it’s gently written away. Gids and Chandra become an explodey missile (no really, literally a missile), and then they recruit Ajani cause he knows these damn kids need a lesson in humility. Immediately after recruiting a big lion dude, one of the only two people that has defeated Nicol Bolas, they then ignore the lion man’s suggestion that they don’t take Nicol Bolas head on. Jace and Gideon dude bro a bit together and suggest they should go to Amonkhet and slap about a dragon. I mean, they killed two Eldrazi titans and nearly got reduced to Eldrazi mush in their last battle. What could possibly go wrong?

Amonkhet focuses more on developing Gideon but only succeeds in spectacularly outlining all the issues we’ve already come to the conclusion of ourselves. Gideon “witnesses” Oketra (shiny and chrome) and decides to throw himself into yet another very neat, strong and stable system, and takes the five trials. Yet another god of a plane takes a liking to him, and Oketra talks to him a bit. He then joins a crop with Dejuru and badmouths the black god Bontu, because nothing bad ever happened when you fucked with a black aligned god amirite Gids? You tool.

Cruel

He does the challenge and it turns out to be horrifying for our precious meatslab and his morals. Instead of bitch slapping Gideon for his insolence in refusing to take part in the trials, Bontu simply says he’s a jerk for judging a culture he never grew up in. The guards and the god restrain him, despite only a few stories before he was able to punch back the tentacle of an Eldrazi god. Power creep recedes in the story at last, I guess. Gideon continues to interfere, and when the Gatewatch is dumped a giant battle with all their powers subdued, he throws himself in front of Hazoret’s spear to stop Dejuru from receiving his final reward. Yet another person (Hazoret) tells him he isn’t a god, and that he’ll die by the hands of an immortal. At last some good news. Sadly he isn’t killed by Bolas, but the dragon does manage to penetrate through his indestructible barrier with his claw and tell him to get off his sandy lawn.

When I think of Gideon now, all I can hear him saying is “muh freedoms” while applying his sural of democracy to a savages face.

MTG Flash Fan Fic – Protean Raider

He swung the jacket round his shoulders and looped his right arm through the sleeves, pushing the door open with one shoulder as he pushed his left arm in. He wanted any onlookers to notice signs of a tussle, to see that he had come out the victor, his curious siren stalker unable to get a good drop on him. The jacket itself was a perfect fit, but then he could always grow a shrink a small amount to ensure the smallest details were impervious to scrutiny. He had entered the bar a Siren, wearing the Screamer’s colours in a slightly underplayed fashion to avoid slinging the blame too obviously to the overworked and underperforming frigate’s crew. He had seen the Siren a few days before, passed out in a pit not too far from a ferocidon hot spot. Thus far everything had gone swimmingly, and the body of the captain’s clothes he now wore sat bundled up in a barrel out back.

The captain ran a tight ship of formidable fighters, crewing a ship built to withstand a seven day pummelling of eight pound cannon fire and still come out of it able to sail. If they wanted to take the Defiant, a battle was the least favoured option. Every damn captain on the seas wanted to wrest control of such a fine vessel. Instead they had employed his services as a shifter, to take the captains place and quite formally shift command over to the forces in the Black Heart coalition. There would no doubt be bumps along the way – pirates were not a particularly orderly kind, but he was confident he could slip into the role. Playing a captain was always a healthy trip for the ego.

He brushed off his shoulders, flicking away a few errant spatters of blood and hair while scanning the room for glaring eyes. He scratched at his neck – he had always hated the human desire to grow the most ostentatious and ridiculous beards. That’s when a pair of eyes caught his eye. A woman sat on her own, two beers sat adjacent to her in a curiously perfect horizontal line. She was staring right at him.

That’ll be my first mate.

He strode over; sure to briefly flash a yellowing grin of hard won victory, arms pumping with authority. She simply flicked an eyebrow at him, rolling her eyes towards a slowly closing entrance door.

His heart hastened. This one might be a challenge.

He sat down without saying a word, eyes intently locked on hers. They seemed particularly hypnotic for a human. Deep and brilliantly blue. He looked down at the drinks in front of him, unsure which one was his as they had been laid out equal distance from each other, both central to the two sitting.

You’re a captain, you drink what you please.

He scooped up a mug and sunk half of it down his throat. Proteans had an ornate ability to consume anything necessary and dump it later. They couldn’t get drunk anyway.

“Captain.” A forced smile cracked the edges of her mouth. “Have you decided how we’re going to handle the attempt on our ship?”

“That Siren, under his jacket I saw Screamer colours. No doubt they’ll send more, and they won’t be the only ones either. We should quietly set sail this evening under the late fog. No witnesses.”

She nodded her head at an angle, eyes closing as she did it, a typical human response showing confirmation.

“I’ll inform the bare minimum of the crew. Best the eager mouthed ones remain ignorant.”

“This is why you’re in charge.” He responded, sloshing his drink in her general direction.

She still hadn’t taken a sip of hers, and seemed visibly frustrated at his reaction to the situation. Was he being too blasé?

Nonsense, a captain would do as he pleased and show absolute control of the situation.

“Ease up; no one has ever beaten the Defiant or her crew. Make preparations. We are not so easily swindled.” He motioned her away.

She huffed a brief laugh and stood to inspect the surroundings before leaving. She grabbed the full mug she had left, downed the lot and stomped out of the bar.

We’re on.

***

He hammered down the pier towards the Defiant, and could see the crew already making preparations to set sail. The night was dark and the clouds had lifted, but the fog from the mainland had settled low. It was bitterly cold and his boots were stiffening around his feet. He shrunk them down a little to ease the pressure.

“Captain on deck!” His first mate shouted to the crew, her hair now bundled up, her simple uniform now switched for light leather battle gear. She was prepared for a battle that would never come.

The rest of the crew stood to attention while a select few rushed around to drop the sails and throw off the lines. Most of them were heavily armed save for a small number of deck hands. His first mate had her hands on her hips, eager to execute his first order.

“Set sail for the port of Carner.” He boomed, eyes fixed on the dark slick ocean ahead of them.

“The Black Heart Coalition eh?” His first mate smiled with one half of her mouth, eyes locked to the same point. “You’ve always been so keen to emulate their success.”

“Imitation is the sincerest form of piracy.” He harkened back.

A job well done.

“That is why the Defiant remains so difficult to capture.” She sternly uttered back.

She slowly slid her cutlass from her belt, and the rest of her crew turned and did the same.

“Mutiny?!” He spat. “I’ll not accept-“

As his words trailed off the entire crew transformed, the façade dropping away as their human bodies revealed beings of pure blue energy.

His mouth hung.

Proteans.

All of them.

Tezzeret the Sucker

It occurred to me this morning that an awful lot of very big things are happening between very big characters and personalities. It thus becomes very easy for us (and MTG Story) to gloss over some of the more nitty gritty behind the characters that are slaving away in the background with zero recognition. In some cases, we care very little about their mental health and the stresses a human is subjected to when you’re at the mercy of the whims of multiversal threats with exceedingly erratic power levels and schemes spanning thousands of years. I speak of course, about Tezzeret, whom my playgroup fondly refers to as Tezzeret the Sucker (a reference to his foreign Seeker print) and his general ability to fail painfully at everything. He is MTG’s Worf from Star Trek: TNG. There were frequent grumblings about his characters sanity, or lack thereof, in the Kaladesh storyline. In short his mental stability was like that of a finely sautéed potato that had been left to the elements for several days, mashed together with days old vegetation to create some kind of abhorrent edible mess. Strictly speaking, his emotional range is fairly comparable to the texture of bubble and squeak. He is a well and truly broken and aging man, and no matter how much he may want to end it all, it was made quite clear that death was not such an easy way out.

People kept saying he was out of character in Kaladesh. Let me inform you how he got this way.

Sanity: 100

Liliana Vess, Jace Beleren, Nicol Bolas, even non-planeswalkers like Toshiro Umezawa. Notice how nearly every damn primary and most secondary characters have surnames? So can you tell me what Tezzeret’s is? Can you even tell me what his real first name is? Tezzeret isn’t even his actual name, it’s just slang he got from the cesspits he was brought up in, and even that title merely refers to him as a weapon. So not only is he the only Planeswalker without a surname, he’s also the only Planeswalker born without any name at all, allegedly.

Pistol whip for -1

Sanity: 99

Oh, his mother was a prostitute.

Sanity: 95

Then she died when he was seven and he had to help his abusive father clear the street of her corpse.

A minor setback to one’s state of mind. A cool -10?

Sanity: 85

Following on from the abuse from his father, he soon exceeded his father’s ability in salvaging metal, and unfortunately became the brawn of their paltry operation. His father was lazy, so Tezzy would steal some metal for himself and receive a thrashing as and when he was caught. He used said thrashings to aid him in stealing yet more metal. It’s also noted that while he rose the ranks in his little gangs, he murdered the mother of anybody who crossed him. That’s an interesting interpretation of emotions when dealing with the loss of a parent. I mean that’s only mildly psychopathic right? In the grand scheme of things this is relatively small fry for what our little lad has yet to do to the multiverse. Did I mention he hid some of the etherium he salvaged in his groin?

Walking around with magical metal floating inside your pork and beans. -10

Sanity: 75

Sucker-T is still doing OK.

He spends years learning an awful lot about artifice, and his rhabdomancy (the ability to find metal) helps him rob people’s stashes of etherium for his own diabolical ends of… a good education! At last our little psycho-scrapper has admirable goals in life. He was a baller, and completed most of his training in a third of the time. He becomes thrifty and shows great promise to his teachers and chops off his arm. Oh yeah, he wanted to do this ever since he was a child. I mean who didn’t think of lopping off a limb and replacing it with metal stolen from corpses when they were kids. Life goals my friends. The Guild heads notice this and think he’s a top notch guy and fast track him to master status. Tezzeret then leaves to the Academy of suckersSeekers

Chopping off an arm sort of weighs out academic success so we’ll say our boy broke even.

Sanity: A respectable 75

Oh wait he wanted to join the Seekers of Carmot (more on this later) but got roshambo’d by Silas Renn and told he sucked(hah!) too much to be considered. He protests to the headmaster but they decided to expel him instead. Tezz goes from child prodigy to unworthy in the space of a single (unfair) fight that may or may not have involved clockspinning. But he couldn’t have that could he? Oh no, when faced with expulsion what would any other student do? Why, they’d kill the headmaster of course! If you think that’s a watershed moment when Tezz goes from broken sewer boy to full blown crackers, you ain’t seen nothing yet. With the head teacher disposed of, he continues his training unabated for years, aside from the fact that all his peers hate him and everything he stands for. Office banter, I imagine.

SIlas
That shit eating grin…

Silas Renn, a man of a few natural limbs, makes himself an etherium heart (I believe if we go by A Test of Metal he’s eventually got nothing organic left besides his head). Such transplants are looked upon quite fondly by the Seekers, and so Renn proves his membership. This angers the already unstable Tezzeret, and so he decides to go and steal the Codex Etherium (Mary Berry’s secret family recipe for creating Etherium) but discovers it’s all a big fraud. He’s spent years of his life in service to this, and is swiftly informed that this was all one big lie. His life’s work and hardships were for naught. He’s then caught and given a good beating for his troubles to near death when his spark ignites.

Attack roll, score -10

Sanity: 65

Half dead, floating through the eternities for the first time, the poor bastard lands on Grixis of all planes. This guy really cannot catch a break. He survives the monsters of Grixis. Everybody is quite aware of just how grim and bleak Grixis is, let alone the demons and zombies that walk this plane.

He finds Bolas.

Sanity: 50

Bolas

Watershed moment people. It all goes downhill from here.

Hah, jokes on you, some story hand waving is done within a few lines of text and it turns out Sucker-T takes over the Infinite Consortium from under Bolas’ nose by assassinating numerous high ranking leaders and taking it for himself. Take that childhood trauma. It’s at this point when the power level of Bolas becomes somewhat questionable. This is post mending so Bolas is about as powerful as any other 25,000 year old elder dragon, aka, insanely powerful and will crush your mortal mind with the flick of his eyes. The fact that Tezzeret takes over the Infinite Consortium at this stage is somewhat of a curious turn of events. Yes there was a big long cunning plan of pitting our future mind mage against him, but that was in order to regain control of his planar wide biz. The actual act of losing it was allegedly never part of any plan and yet it just sort of happened.

Because reasons.

Enter Jace. Tezzeret is a pretty paranoid chap at this point and rightly so. He stole the IC (Infinite Consortium) from his boss whom he promised eternal servitude to, a boss that could appear at any moment he pleased and turn Tezzy into etherium macaroni. Tezzeret needed a mind mage and Jace was just the chap to root out Bolas’ spies. Tezzeret trains him in some rather unorthodox and seemingly brutal ways, mind mage BDSM style. He’s got beef that Bolas managed to set up the Seekers of Carmot and cause a large portion of his problems. Strangely, he felt betrayed that an all-powerful evil being bartering power for servitude would do such a thing. That must be strike three for Tezzeret woefully misjudging characters, and he’s about to get another swift lesson in such things with Liliana and Jace. Tezzeret foolishly thinks that if he trains Jace real good, he’ll be able to withstand Bolas’ mind games. As readers, hindsight is a beautiful thing, but yes, this does not end well. In fact it ends very badly for our unstable metal man.

So, Tezz takes Jace to meet with our elder dragon to negotiate (yes… I know, he’s trying to negotiate with Nicol freaking Bolas) over some mineral rights. Needless to say Bolas plunders both Jace’s and Tezzeret’s mind with the artful agility of an Italian plumber. Weirdly he sends some barbarians of the plane to track them down and kill them instead of, you know, just turning them into mush on the spot. They escape alive, and Tezzeret is mad. Like super mad. Jace fails another mission and now Tezzeret, homicidal maniac that he is, starts dreaming of Jace’s death. The mind mage has run away to begin his toxic relationship with Vess. He captures Jace again, and Baltrice (like Chandra but beefcake and grumbly) is set to work on some mind mage torture. Meanwhile Tezzeret works on a Mindslaver to keep that pesky mage in check. Plots dictate that Jace magically frees himself, battles Tezzeret and then subsequently turns Sucker-T into a vegetable, chops off his prized etherium arm (man, this guy is just terrible at keeping hold of his limbs), and then dumps him on Kamigawa to be burned alive by ratmen.

JaceTezz.jpg

So, Tezzeret is mindless, armless, mangled, burnt and very much dead. That’s game baby.

And then Bolas resurrects him and tattoos him with his symbol. The elder dragon equivalent of a dog kicking its leg up straight on yo’ face.

Sidenote: Tezzeret is in eternal servitude to Bolas at this point because of said tattoo. Who else do we know with a branding that causes them to be eternally indebted to someone/something I wonder?

Tezz Tattoo.jpg

Lili Tattoo.jpg

Sanity: 0

This is where things get a bit tricky. Test of Metal is not strictly canon. It’s also been contradicted an awful lot, so it’s difficult to say whether this had an effect on Tezzeret’s mental stability by the time we get to Kaladesh. So let’s summarise and see how this might affect a man.

Bolas injects a safety into Tezzeret’s mind called Dr Jest, who both taunts, aids and fights against Tezzeret’s will and can basically control his body.

Sanity: -10

He heads on over to the Crystal Labyrinth that’s under siege by millions of zombies, under the control of his old buddy Renn, and then heads back to empower himself by injecting sangrite into his heart (this guy loves to use and abuse his own body). He gets into a fairly savage fist fight with Renn who’s tricky to defeat because of his clockworking ability. Eventually, Renn is horribly horribly wrecked, and Tezz decides to keep the guy’s living head around for safe keeping.

Pet head status: Achieved.

Sanity: -20

He uses the head to solve the labyrinth, comes face to face with the Riddle Gate guarded by Kemuel, who informs him this has happened millions of times and usually Tezzeret goes crazy (oh sweet Kemuel, if only you knew) and kills himself or gets killed by the sphinx.

Your life was a Truman Show crossover with Groundhog Day for a hermit Sphinx.

Sanity: -30

He ends up on Metal Island (highly creative naming here) and finds masses of etherium that can’t be transported off-plane, but Sucker-T can use it while he’s here. An island with plot armour!

(My sanity: 95)

Lots of double and triple and quadruple crossing occurs, Tezz wins but loses, Bolas wins but loses, lots of hand waving occurs in the story and the end happens about twelve different times. Eventually (finally) we learn that it was all a super tricksy trick of Bolas. At this stage Bolas runs up to Tezzeret with his camcorder live streaming to YouTube and shouts “IT WAS JUST A PRANK BRO!”

Sanity: -999

Then we arrive on Kaladesh, discover that Tezzeret is a bit mad, and are greeted with such eloquent quotes as:

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” Tezzeret’s voice sounded as though it were coming through an amplifier.

And…

“I thought I made it clear before. You are nothing. NOTHING.” Spittle flew out of his mouth dusting her cheeks in a spattering of hot dew. “You are here ONLY because I wanted you to be. You are alive ONLY because I have allowed it. You will do as I say, or I will END you.”

Then people complained about Tezzeret being out of character in the story. So go back and reread just how Tezzeret got to this point, and then tell me that these responses are out of character. The dude had his arm removed, twice, had his brain gently beaten to Jell-O and burned alive, resurrected, all after discovering ninety percent of his life’s goals were in pursuit of a lie concocted by a man that literally owns him. Did I mention he injected metal into or around his testicles?

Somebody please allow this man a solid six weeks of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Dark int.jpg

Project #2 – Act 3: Mother of Machines Pt5

Urabrask remained still, his serpentine eyes fixed upon the deity that loomed above. She was seemingly looking on her works thus far with total disinterest. Urabrask had never felt so bare and vulnerable, and instinctively pressed his form closer to the ground in hopes that Marit Lage would go on her way without turning her unpredictable attention on him. He had subconsciously been holding his breath for the last few moments, his body’s memory of the fight with his brother already erased by terror. The longer he stared, the more the situation grew unbearable.

What you lack in intelligence you make up for in wisdom by tenfold, little praetor.  Her voice sang through his head, invading areas of his conscious and touching them in a way that felt like a fracture.

A great buzz ignited the air around him, the sky grew restless, and within a moment the great figure in the sky disappeared into a hum as her form evaporated. The air settled to normality, and Urabrask found himself alone again, without a single living being in sight. His chest released and his lungs clutched in his throat for air as his senses returned to some semblance of sanity. He wanted to collapse. He wanted the ground to eat him up painlessly and allow him to continue being without any level of sapience interrupting a simple existence.

His senses fired off again.

Can there be no rest in this world? He thought.

“I hear leadership isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” A familiar voice taunted in an elegant female voice.

“Do this traitor of his kind a mercy and cut me into pieces, then bury them, so that that false god can never raise me for her use.” He uttered back, wistfully.

“Strange talk for a Phyrexian.” Glissa’s voice grew closer.

Urabrask remained still, ready. Old habits.

“Greatness at any cost and all that. I thought you’d be glad to be a part of Phyrexian history that sees your pure kind traverse the planes.” Glissa wandered up to the side of Urabrask, never looking directly at him, but surveying the surroundings of her old home.

“We all fall Praetor. If you think this ends with your survival, I want to know what faulty gene or process enabled you to feel such false hope.” She paused. “I saved this plane once. Then I was labelled a traitor. I became a part of its end, and now we are cogs in a new kind of end for this brief moment. None can survive this. It is what they are. I should know, I was very nearly one of them.”

“They? I never thought you anything more than a slave, past or present.” Urabrask grew curious, passing a gaze across Glissa’s stern exterior.

“Planeswalkers. They are gifted the means of travel, and squander it. They use it to explore and simply meddle. I was robbed of my gift. Our new god is one, I have seen the way they move between the worlds. The creator of the first of us was… is one too. He created this rock in the multiverse and then abandoned it as he grew bored. He left us as mere children to carve out a stake in this place under a broken regime and this infectious disease.” She looked down at her hands.

“Not that I’m complaining mind you. It has its benefits.” She slide two fingers together like cutters.

“These planewalkers sound no different than us.” He proposed. “Yet our history with them shows they hate the very fibre of our being.”

“Most gods do not like to look into hell and find themselves looking back.” She flicked a thumb up to the empty sky. “Unless of course you’re the one that made hell in the first place like your adopted mother up there.”

“Sometimes there’s just bigger fish than you. You either get crushed underfoot or conform. If you’re lucky you can make it benefit you along the way. Nobody knows this better than I.”

Urabrask had not thought this kind of frank conversation between Glissa and Praetor… or anyone for that matter would have been possible. Still, to him she had made more sense than every one of his brothers and sisters. Glissa understood the fleeting nature of her presence here, and had managed to thrive under such tumultuous circumstances.

They sat there in quiet contemplation for a few moments more, Urabrask soaking in the silent beauty of the glade. He could see why the elf would hold her home in such close regard. Glissa’s demeanour had changed since their brief altercation beforehand. Laying eyes on such a grand terrible being as Marit Lage had its way of quickly changing the beholder’s immediate priorities. But what Urabrask saw in Glissa was not some new watershed moment of inner peace, or grand realisation. No, what showed in her posture was a new goal, a new drive. An opportunity had presented itself, and she was ready to set a plan in motion to seize it. Her laid back attitude towards Urabrask was not kindness, it was a professional courtesy.

“I will see this to its end.” He uttered to her as he pulled himself off the way he came.

“Yours or hers, little Praetor? Decide what you want Urabrask, because you and I both know it doesn’t fall into standard parameters for a Phyrexian.” Glissa arched her head to the side to wait for Urabrask’s response as he disappeared into the tangle.

“Both, I hope.” Urabrask stopped just short of the clearing.

“And what do you intend to do when our great war across the planes is waged, Traitor?”

A smile flashed across Glissa’s face in private.

“I will tend to Mirrodin.”

***

Sounds of the good work echoed across the corridors as he scuttled down towards the core room. Specimens were few and far between as of late, the Mirran population dwindles and as such the experiments became more difficult. In their desperation they had taken to keeping the subjects alive for as long as was physically possible with their fragile forms. They developed ways of keeping the subject alive through methodical approaches, without skewing their results outside of acceptable constraints. Subjects were now used for multiple tests at the same time to keep up with the Augur’s time structure. Faint wails drowned into sobs as the conscious parts of the subjects were kept subdued, their natural brain neuron firing interrupted so the body could not respond to the brain’s requests – mostly screams.

He didn’t stop to inspect the work, he didn’t have time. No, he was instructed by the few of their esteemed order that relayed with the surface that a planar expedition was fast approaching the horizon. The Augur would be pleased to know of the opportunities. He had also received word that the haughty self-serving white Praetor was most violently put to an end – information that would be most agreeable amongst the intelligent caste and their master. He even had news of Vorinclex’s acceptance of service, something which was most suspiciously out of his character.

Perhaps news of planar invasion was enough to envigor even the most simple of Phyrexia’s creations, such opportunities! He thought to himself. Such simple beasts as Vorinclex always made such a mess of things, but their master had thrived under such toil thus far. With any luck the less enlightened would be the first in line to the battle. Their caste had always been responsible for putting the brutes back together, and when one had such little to work with in the first place it made their life all the more difficult.

It would prove most insightful to work on the body of a Praetor, however. He tapped his grease-ridden mechanical jaw with lofty ambition. He wondered what they did with the body of Elesh. Such wastefulness.

He approached the core room, the corridor still bent up and patchy from where an errant manabomb had been detonated. Much of the area had been obliterated but it hadn’t taken long for his caste to make quick work of rebuilding and improving the area, this time more suited to Jin’s needs and general stature.

His exoskeletal mechanics chittered in excitement as he approached to entryway, now purely mechanical instead of those insufferable flesh holes. Jin practiced in private and took on only the most esteemed of tasks. He taught his brood to strive to remove flesh from the equation and find betterment through technological means; it was their sacred duty as the highest operating level of Phyrexia. He had to be sure not to interrupt at a critical moment, or he would have a large portion of his body removed for experimentation and kept alive to endure his transgressions. It was the best form of self-reflection. Sometimes one even got to reflect upon their own body as it was exploited in front of them, the ultimate kind of progress. In that he envied the Mirran that they got to observe their ascension to near perfection. They were the fuel that helped reach the ever approaching goal of final iteration. A pity they spent their appreciation on making such noise…

He pressed his metallic body against the door gently, probing with listening drums across the surface to gauge at what stage was most prudent to gently make his entrance. The news he had to bare was not to be sullied by imprudence. With focused attention he listened with every care. The inner room remained silent, his window was clear.

With gentle precision he fiddled with the locking mechanism and the door retracted its six panels and opened to allow him an artful entrance. Eyes to the ground he floated in, revering his Augur master with reverence as his limbs waved and bowed.

“Great Augur of the Core, I bring news of the…” He stopped as he noticed Jin-Gitaxias frozen in surprise and irritation as he crawled his way down from the tall throne that once seated the golem Karn.

The servant briefly forgot himself and then quickly resumed the task at hand.

“Master Jin, it brings great relief to tell you that your sister Elesh is dead. I have a great many other items on my instruction; however I thought this to be the most prudent to your immediate interests.” He stopped and waited for Jin’s response with eagerness.

He had to wait a few moments longer than anticipated as Jin-Gitaxias menacingly clambered down towards his subject, without word or clear intent.

Why was the core augur on the throne? And why did he seem so displeased for me to catch him in such a situation? He posited to himself. Perhaps now was his time to die for his accidental insolence. He had no doubt he would be recycled with fruitful results.

Jin-Gitaxias was nearly as tall as his brother Vorinclex, but significantly weaker due to his serpentine body. His entire height was built up by layers of metallic plates, woven together with sinewy parts and needles in imprecise locations, entirely unbefitting of his stature. Most of his body looked like a looming mechanical spine, with the exception of his long pointed head and gangly arms. His particulars were built for surgical accuracy and tight observation of every discernible data point they might collect. To his brood he was a marvel of Phyrexian science and engineering. To his brothers and sisters, and the now extinct Mirran, he was a backstabbing sycophant whose sole interest lied in senseless torture of his subjects for his own enjoyment. He thought himself above all other living life, the true heir to Phyrexia, and the one most well equipped to lead them to a final evolution of perfection. The sight of him was enough to instil terror in all of Phyrexia’s enemies, a common trait among the most powerful. Jin’s followers did not fear him however. They envied his excellence.

“Apologies for my intrusion great augur…” His served bowed his head in a slow and measured fashion, entirely accepting that his consciousness might end in a few moments.

Jin loomed over the small Phyrexian, long spindly arms hovering close to his body, needle-like fingertips scraping away at one another.

“You are my seventh iteration, are you not?” He rasped, neck craning about the room in search of eavesdroppers.

“Yes. Your most esteemed iteration yet, but our flaws are numerous and your next iterations will no doubt be doubly impressive in comparison to one such as I.” His servant remained still, still entirely unsure of the outcome of this curious line of questioning.

Fool, you just insulted his work.

“Numerous… flaws?” Jin straightened, his irritation vanished through a haze of intent absent thought.

After a moment his attention re-entered the room.

“What flaws have you observed?” He asked, genuinely curious of the scientific outcome of this line of questioning.

The small blue Phyrexian raised its head and was visibly confused.

The great blue Praetor wishes my opinion on something?

“These legs are impractical.” He gestured towards his lower limbs. “They are fundamentally hampering the progress of this form in general, and are simply a recreation of the limitation of the inhabitants of this plane.” He stopped and thought a moment more.

“Hmm!” Jin nodded, strangely positive about his minion’s criticism, willing him on.

“There are numerous unnecessary facilities within this area of the abdominal-“

“Elesh is dead. What other news?” Jin interrupted, a sudden change washed over his present mood.

“-I. It is.”

“Your mouth is impractical I see. We will fix this.” Jin grew impatient.

“Sheoldred, the Praetor holed up in the Vault, has returned and taken Elesh’s place in the citadel. The joint creation Atraxa lies in pieces, Urabrask grovels beneath the feet of whatever commands him, and a great being descended from the sky to oversee the expansion of New Phyrexia across other planes. Sheoldred, on behalf of the great new Mother of Machines, the so-called Marit Lage, has requested that you oversee the longevity of our presence here.” He blurted it all out in a very matter-of-fact manner before drifting his eyes up in thought.

“I believe that is all.” He nodded.

“My most esteemed creation is… dead?” Jin’s impatience grew to the embers of fury.

“Yes, the new Mother of Machines, the so-called Marit Lage, annihilated her during her defence of Elesh.” His minion seemed blissfully unaware of his master’s rapidly deteriorating psyche.

“She has killed Elesh… and Atraxa… and made herself our false progenitor…” Jin’s teeth grew agitated, grinding away at the metal that made up his long jaw.

“Ah yes, and Vorinclex has been repurposed.”

Jin’s eyes flashed back to his minion.

“Repurposed by whom?”

“The new Mother of Machines, the so-called Marit-“

“LAGE. MARIT LAGE. I AM AWARE THAT IS HER NAME.” Jin expanded to his full height, his voice reverberating through the throne room.

“Yes, core Augur, I apologise. She… she crushed him and then raised him as her own. Allegedly.” He pointed a finger up at the last word. “She is a self-proclaimed god of the multiverse. Powerful thought she is, a god, I very much doubt. Genetics, more than likely.”

Jin-Gitaxias’ anger grew to an explosion, then his intelligence overrode the thought, and the harsh reality that if this great being had destroyed his brethren so easily and without retaliation, his own longevity was at stake. He wanted to bury himself in work, relieve his stress generated by this inescapable predicament by inspecting a live autopsy, or witness the varying subsonic levels of the various races’ screams in quick succession. His perfect effort and work was threatened, all logical thought was at the risk of being tossed aside in favour of lesser advancements, and now his grand thoughts of leadership were in tatters.

And yet, the thought of fresh new subjects from different worlds enticed him away from his compulsive and logical foundations. The other Phyrexians could fight for scraps of war and attrition, but as long as they provided him with the living results of the carnage, he could further his own schemes to drive the Phyrexian form to greatness. There was the simple issue of avoiding this great godlike destroyer, or at the very least avoiding the potential of being “repurposed” by it. He looked down and saw the Phyrexian beginning to reflexively retreat inside itself, the looming threat of swift and grisly obliteration had grown significantly on its mind.

“I am to take charge of New Phyrexia?” The Praetor asked the tiny figure.

“Yes, Augur. You and your brood will take charge here while the other factions travel and conquer.” He replied, growing ever more confused at his master’s constant change in tones.

“The entire domain will be ours for improvement. The core, the lacunas, the dross and the entire damned forest.” Jin’s mind began wandering again.

“Shall… Shall I return word to the forces at the citadel, Augur?” This was his servant’s self-supplied queue to leave.

“No.” Jin-Gitaxias turned to his messenger and leaned in close from above. “You are correct.”

“About what my master?”

“Your legs are impractical.” Jin plucked up the Phyrexian within his claws. “Those and the rest of you are surplus to requirements.”

His claws sliced cleanly and silently into the tiny doll-like creature in his grasps at all angles until its body slowly went limp without a sound. He instantly felt sick relief, but the enjoyment of killing his own kind could never rival that of a test subject, wholly unwilling to face their end to no real benefit.

He needed to set schedules and plans in motion immediately if his brood were to expand across the surface. Boundless new opportunities were within his reach, and he would be entirely uncontested and unhindered. He could build a Phyrexia in his image, designed to improve from the core up.