Work Header

A Million, Million Lives

Work Text:

Every time the world ends, it hurts a little less, he thinks. But then, every one of them ended twice.

There they go again in their beautiful chariot of stars, flushing out new planets like an eager archaeologist, pushing aside space like dirt to find their prize. Then so very unlike the care and awe and wonder of old-new knowledge that a trinket-digger holds, they take the fragile relic, and close their fists around it.

A million, million lives wasted...

He stands over the anvil like Hephaestus and callously brings the hammer down on another world in a forge that boils with the blood of insignificant civilizations. Stars shoot away like sparks with the blow of his fist and furious magma coagulates across his knuckles. The whole cosmos fills with the scent of careless sudden death and no one ever knew they were there in the first place.

He doesn't care. He never cared.

Somewhere in him a rage yells back at the blood on his palm, but he's been killing for so long he can no longer hear it. But sometimes he imagines he hears the screams, and sometimes he thinks,

why didn't they build me with the capacity to re-originate my memories?

A newborn babe comes crawling from the glowing folds of the Nether, so bright with self-made life and independent thought, windstorms and tides tossed by moons that roar with chaos, but that chaos is a lie. He peers down onto them and sees leylines that look like spiderwebs, and feathers that look like trees, and the carefully-curled hair of preened young men that look like hurricanes from above. So selfsame, so mathematic, governed by a law that life made for itself but which the Titans just don't understand.

He sees for only a moment as a sprawled-out galaxy wheels in his hand, stretching arms curling over his constellation fingertips like ivy seeking a wall. He sees with so much, too much perfection, for his mind is made to seek the Law and he sees so much Law in the million, million lives who made themselves from nothing like magic -- the Titans built him to know where Law is or isn't, but they also built him to kill.

He peers at life and law and heart-wrenching beauty and sees potential beyond the gods and not one of them means a damn thing because it isn't perfect enough.

He twists his thumb and forefinger and sees but the tiniest, briefest flash of a sudden supernova, hears distant screams and then silence, sees -- thinks he sees -- blood, and then dust. Light and sound pounded into silence and dust, for nothing.

The Titans have made nothing. They come and stomp down sandcastles and build new ones from the rubble, and at the first sign of the relentless tide chewing away at the edges, they come and stomp it all down again.

The Burning Legion has not killed so much as the Titans. Perfection is a hungry mistress, fed only by endless sacrifice. Maybe one of these millennia, they'll get it right -- but no. Compelled and obsessed to destroy and rebuild, destroy and rebuild.

No wonder Sargeras went mad. They can never be as perfect as they need to be.

He knows it, as their avatar, the intense self-loathing that only a being so obsessed with perfection and so acute to the perception of flaws can possess. He hates himself, hates the gods, hates everything he sees, hates it so much he loves it, he thinks the horrible, disgusting, revolting stewing brooding storm of senseless chaos and death and life on every world is so terrible it pushes back out into something wonderful again, for nothing can be as good as what made itself from nothing.

They're never as good the second time. The Titans never see; they only know how to hate. They hide behind masks of apathy, but he knows. He knows.

Each time, he thinks he pauses for a thousandth millisecond longer than the last, just before he throws another world to the meat-grinder for the glorious deities to build again.

The thousandth milliseconds build and build and build until he waits long enough to let them break down the doors and tell him to stop.

Such beautiful, self-made life, even if tainted by the Titan's touch, but if they're good enough not to hate themselves, enough to fight to live, they've got to be better than the gods. The gods build with endless, cold and directed hate, and here storming the ancient sanctuary came fragile hearts violent to the brim with love.

He could have blinked, and unmade them.

He let them fight him. He let them tell him no. He let them scream and rage at him outside his body instead of in his palm, let them bleed starlight from him because he knew he deserved it, because he hated himself like the Titans made him.

A million, million lives wasted...

Yet all throughout, my own heart, bristling with emotion... with empathy. I... have... felt...


I have always, always felt for them.

Every time a world ends, it hurts a little worse.

He tells the Titans, "Alpha".

He tells them, they were wrong.