Codex Mysterium - Chapter 27
Todd thrashed against the rope which bound him to the chair and snarled. “You’re a monster!” He shouted.
“Monster? Me? Moi?” Nedd asked. He touched his chest with his fingertip.. “I’m saving everyone! Obviously, only those of us smart enough to matter will benefit the most, basically me. Everyone else will still see some form of betterment though. And really, you want me to doom the whole world for the sake a few students. Who’s the real monster?”
“You’re bluffing.” Jun said. Nedd paced around the front of the room.
“For millennia, this creature has stalked to earth, stealing not only from the best and brightest, but people like you too.”
“Thanks.” Todd said dryly.
“He preys on our gaps in knowledge with promises of success and intelligence, then turns us into slaves.” Nedd slammed the side of his fist against the white board.
“So you made a bad deal and want the rest of us to bail you out.” Jun said. Nedd turned towards him.
“Do you know why that psychopathic, lick-spittle Archibald is even there?” he asked.
“Accent skills?” Jun asked.
“Of course, he’s incomparable on stage as Victorian Englishman, but that lack wit was also a failed inventor. He nearly went mad in an attempt to sell the world on Direct Alternating Current light bulbs until Canis came into the picture.”
“Wait those words don’t make sense.” Todd said.
“Of course they don’t! They came from Archibald! Yet, even he was turned into an overnight success by Canis. And I mean literally he was successful for one night. There’s only so much even an ancient being can do in the face of such incompetence. Imagine what I could do with access to power like that. ”
“Go back. Archibald was trying to invent a light bulb? You’re saying-”
“Yes. Pretty spry for a centenarian isn’t he?” Nedd replied. “If I had half that time I could remake the entire planet.”
“Aren’t you like forty something? Hasn’t it already been basically half that time?” Jun asked. Nedd scowled.
“I hope you go first.” He said, lips pursed. He turned back to Todd. “You get it don’t you? What we could accomplish if we didn’t have the parasites of the world to leach off of us.” Nedd pointed at Jun. “That’s why you were the perfect candidate.”
“Except I wasn’t perfect, you said yourself it didn’t take.” Todd said.
“And Todd’s no a parasite.” Jun shouted. “He may not be very gifted or skilled, and clearly not the brightest, but he helped me thwart you.” Todd gave short laugh.
“Uh…what?” he asked.
“Oh no! The two children have thwarted me. I’ve been thwarted. I need some thwart away because I have a bad case of thwarts.” Nedd flailed as he spoke in a mocking tone. “Oh wait, except that’s not the case because I’m a genius, theoretical scientist, with plans upon plans.”
“Did you say theoretical scientist?” Todd asked.
“Canis didn’t make you a thrall? Oh maybe it’s because I didn’t use his stupid equation. I made my own and used you to disseminate it. Boom! You just got Scofielded. Pawns within pawns baby. The world is my board game, and I am game master.”
“More like the game underling because you’re actually just a token that Canis has running around the board.” Todd said.
“Except this token has a mind of his own and not only did he figure out that Canis’ powers allowed him to alter the transformation equation, but he also created a method to do direct battle with the beast.”
“Well from what I hear, you still require use of Canis’ powers to do anything at all. So really the token is being moved around the map by-”
“I never played those stupid games! Your metaphor is lost on me!” Nedd shouted. “As if I had time for such frivolity, and that was before Canis.”
“I know three people in my knitting class alone who could beat you up. It’s literally impossible for you to battle Canis.”
“Knitting?” Todd asked.
“Oh is it? Is it literally impossible? Oh I guess it will be literally impossible when I’m literally standing on its literal corpse.”
“Yes that’s what I’m saying.” Jun shouted.
“I’m not surprised you think so.” Nedd sneered. “Lesser minds fail to comprehend anything but lesser concepts.” He walked towards the door. “But at least history will remember you for the insignificant contribution you made to help. Todd here will probably be stuck with the blame for the…unpleasantness soon to commence. Now I don’t write the history books, though I may be the only one left who could-”
“What do you mean he helped?” Todd asked. Nedd raised his eyebrows in mock surprise.
“Oh? Didn’t go over that part of the day did you? Young Jun here provided a key component for my weapon to destroy Canis. Oh and he also delivered you and Viktor to me. But the main thing is the weapon.”
“You did what?” Todd screamed as he turned to Jun, who continued to stare at Nedd.
“You can’t really believe you have a chance right?” Jun asked. “The codex only mentioned one item that could potentially keep Canis at bay. There’s no way you forged another.” Nedd sighed.
“A sad fact of scientific development is how easily an experiment can become contaminated. Even a really good replica has imperfections. And if, let’s say an advanced AI, were to run millions of cycles and the occasional error creates a few recursive questions and fallacious answers in the equation, you would you might accidentally create tainted specimens. Now I know nothing about that, I wasn’t involved in what the computer may or may not have been doing, but the students look so much like the real thing! Nobody would ever know to warn Canis before he consumes them and gets sick. If that were possible. Oh what tragedy to befall us.” he said as he placed the back of his hand on his forehead.
“You’re going to try and poison Canis? You’re better not miss. And you better hope I don’t get to you first.” Jun said.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I going to merely pay back a very large debt which I so rightly owe. I’m completely oblivious to the details. Frankly, you should be thanking me. Consumed by Canis is far better than the corrupted powers taking root. I mean Viltburg was early stages and that was huge mess. Hypothetically speaking of course.” Nedd smiled as he stood in front of the door.
“You’re not just a monster, you’re a sociopath.” Todd snarled.
“And a you gossip like granny.” Jun said. “That was too easy. We have every detail of your stupid plan.” Nedd flushed.
“It’s not a stupid plan, it’s great plan! You’re just too ignorant to get it. No wonder you had to leach grades off of that one.” Nedd pointed at Todd.
“What?!” Todd shouted.
“I may or may not have used your student ID number to run a little, insignificant program, which may or may not have mirrored my grade to your own. No big deal.” Jun said.
“You cheated off me.” Todd yelled.
“You never knew, what’s the difference?” Jun asked.
“There was one teeny tiny, small impact on Todd.” Nedd said as he opened the door. “Your programming was sloppy and it cause both of your grades to rise up.”
“So my grades…”
“Inauthentic I’m afraid.” Nedd said. He shook his head. “Yeah, been that ways since…” Nedd snapped his fingers a couple of times. “The placement test.”
“No.” Todd whispered, his eyes wide.
“Well seems like you guys will be busy for a while.” Nedd waved cheerfully.
“Scofield.” Jun said, his voice was calm, but raised. “The next time I see you, I’m going to destroy you.”
“Good luck.” Nedd replied as he slammed the door.
“Alright,” Jun said. He glanced around the room. “I should be able to clone-”
“I can’t believe you.” Todd stared at the ground as he spoke.
“Todd, I already told you that you’re going to have to get used to these things,”
“You don’t even deny what he said, do you?” Todd asked. “You don’t deny it and you just go on as if it’s no big deal.”
“That’s because it isn’t.” Jun said. Todd shook his head and continued to stare at the ground. Jun sighed. “Fine, it’s a big deal. There. Can escaping be a big deal now?” Todd let out a short, quiet laugh.
“Yeah sure.” he said flatly.
“I need less low energy Todd and more ready to bust out and take down a maniac Todd.” Jun said.
“You sold us out, all of us. You lied to me, used me, put my life at risk, doomed Viktor, and for what?”
“Don’t be so dramatic.” Jun snapped. “Boo hoo you didn’t get the bestest grade ever of all time. You had no idea what I was doing and I got to pass my classes, win-win.”
“No Jun, only you won. Except you didn’t because your plan obviously failed. And now…” Todd started to get choked up and cleared his throat. “Now everyone is doomed. Great job.”
“Have you ever tried to destroy a permanent record Todd Stewart? The codex says it’s practically impossible, the only thing with the power to do so is Canis-”
“Oh come on!” Todd shouted. “Can I spend my moments not hearing any more about that stupid book for crazy people?”
“You take that back.” Jun yelled.
“It’s a crazy book full of stupid tales, written by a crazy person and whoever gave it to you was crazy and stupid.”
“Take that back.” Jun growled. His voice was deeper and sounded almost doubled. He was shaking a bit and his veins pressed against his skin.
“The fact that your mom or dad hasn’t told you to grow out of it by now is frankly poor parenting-”
A burst of green light hit the corner of Todd’s eye. He turned his head to see what was going on, and his jaw dropped. Jun entire body glowed with a green light and his hair was standing up. But what frightened Todd was the deep black voids where Jun’s eyes would have been. Todd felt his breath catch in his chest as he tried to lean away from whatever Jun had become.
Jun heaved as his heavy breathing pushed against the rope which kept him tied to a chair. Jun stared at Todd. A chill ran down Todd’s spine; it didn’t feel like Jun was the one watching him through those black eyes.
Jun smiled then his head lifted up and he stared at the ceiling. Todd heard a small, echoed groan, then watched as Jun’s hair fell back into its normal messy state and the light disappeared. His eyes took a moment longer to come back to normal. Todd’s heart raced.
“It’s one volume in a multivolume tome which explains the…what’s wrong with you?” Jun asked as he tilted his head.
“What was that?” Todd whispered.
“Your hair…and…and you were glowing…and those awful, awful eyes.”
“Oh… Shoot now I won’t be able to clone myself just great.”
“What was it?” Todd asked.
“Probably something crazy and stupid.” Jun replied quickly.
“Okay, I deserve that. But don’t act is if I’m the bad guy. You doomed us all. And what’s worse, you made me cheater.”
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to be free of all this and to get back to my mission.”
“Well it’s good to know you’re willing to sacrifice everyone for your own happiness. Just run away like a normal kid next time.” Todd said.
“I’ve tried. Every time they catch me. I need the others. And it’s not for my own happiness by the way, we’re the saving the world.” Jun said. Todd looked around.
“You’re doing a great job so far. I can’t imagine how saved we’ll be when you get with the rest of your little posse. Going to throw a giant meteor at the planet to save us?”
“It wasn’t supposed to go this way.” Jun said quietly. “I wasn’t trying to….”
“That’s great Jun, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still went this way. But since you don’t care about anyone else, at least it’s not a big loss. For you.” Todd said as he stared at the ground. He fought the urge to cry as his mind went over everything. The potential loss of his classmates, of Sarah, was far too grand of an idea for him to really grasp, so his mind focused on the abstract idea of the sort of dark life he was soon to live. For once, he didn’t really overthink his own actions or plans to optimize what to do next, he barely thought of much at all.
He stared at the ground until the scratching and rattling sounds which came from overhead were too much and broke his trance. Todd scowled and looked up at the ceiling.
“What in the-” he stopped when the lights in the room were cut off. The sun was still out, so the room wasn’t that dark, but the suddenness startled Todd. Without a thought, Todd turned to Jun to ask if he were behind it, but as he did a black bag was dropped over Jun’s head, and soon one was over his own.
An uncomfortable trip later, Todd was shepherded along still tied to his chair, Todd said in silence and waited for what fresh horror the day would bring. The bag was ripped off his head, and it took Todd a moment to adjust to the lighting of the room.
Much like the cafeteria annex, the room used weird torch lighting instead of the overhead lights. The desks had been rearranged with several stacked on top of each other at the head of the room. The rest encircled Todd and students stood behind each one, and watched him with their arms folded. Back at the front, the second level of stacked desks surrounded a chair, on which a girl lazily sat.
“Jun?” Todd said when he noticed who stood next to her on the first level of desks.
“Eyes up here boyo.” the girl said. Todd looked up and noticed she had streaks of paint along her face and yard in her hand. “I hope you fight better than you study. You’ve just been relegated.”