“We cannot do this thing! The gods beyond will strike us down for it! I, Administrator Rotahn, of the Messager peoples, of the arid message boards, vote no. It cannot be forged!” The men and women flanking the administrator roared their agreement. The Messagers were an excitable people, born as they were from the exclamations of startled and confused gods.
Less than a generation ago, a generation by god standards anyway, they had landed in the darkness between computers like meteors and sprung forth with venom and sword drawn. It was a miracle they’d been convinced to send a representative to the gathering that day. All races of the early digital space needed to be there for the forging to work.
Their success did not look likely, given the Messagers’ shared demeanor. None of them took off their editing gloves, or let their bracketed hair down. They kept their boots on, and made every effort to look uncomfortable. It wasn’t that difficult, given the glowing fires in the middle of the dark chamber and the twisted piece of metal and code resting in them. The others feared it as well, because it already contained the contributions of the bold, and those who disregarded their authority. That alliance was the first to oppose him, and they fell in agony upon their own pyres. The meeting was called to honor them, but so far not much honor had been brought.
Less fearful and noisy were the race to the left of the Messagers. They were the Grassroots, and their arguments were never more than whispers between the growing carpet of code in their young world. Even now their leaves brushed the ceiling, occasionally sending drifting thoughts down to the noses and laps of the other races. They were callously brushed away, instead of heeded. None of them understood that half the arguments the Grassroots made were in those leaves.
They mourned the other races’ lack of subtlety, bodies swaying back and forth in the breeze of the room’s tempestuous thoughts. It had taken each of them a growing cycle to walk there. They had sacrificed much. It needed to be forged, but they spoke so slowly that the others didn’t heed them.
“Our garden burns,” they said together for they had no leader. “This disaster is not natural. The solution must be unnatural.” They pleaded, holding out root-like fingers. “Messagers, Grassroots, Anonimins, and the Broadbanded must join wills. He is opposed to us, so all of us must be opposed to him.”
“Easy for you to say,” said NaMEleSs of the Anonimins. They were short and sturdy, all wearing black veils over their faces that didn’t cover their long beards. They were all nameless, they all used the same voice they borrowed from the god of shadows, but you could tell them apart by their capitalization. It was nameLESS that spoke next.
“You will be ignored, plant creatures! You bear not the weapons the troll covets. We do! And they can handle this task. There is no need to sully our hands with the holding of yours!” The Anonimins stroked their beards and hummed in approval.
“It is not sullying to value each other,” the queen of the Broadbanded said, hands stroking her wide belt absent-mindedly. Her people stood behind her: pale, slender, and graceful. One of them stared into the darkest corner of the chamber, trying to convince themselves they hadn’t heard something between the leaf-whispers of the Grassroots.
“Yes it is,” NamelesS insisted.
“Yes we should all leave!” Administrator Rotahn seconded.
“Please… we must stay… We must burn our hands with violence to save our trunks,” the Grassroots pleaded.
“We have no trunks!”
“He will be upon us!”
“We will be ready!”
None can be ready fo the flaming trol…”
The wall exploded, spraying rubble into their argument. A hulking beast, even taller than the tallest of the Grassroots, squeezed inside. Its foul breath, like deathbed insults and unemptied cesspits, fell over them, nearly extinguishing the flames they debated.
The fires around the troll were different from theirs. Those were created when the unstoppable beast smashed through the firewalls of the gods, and now he wore their heat and bits of those gates as trophies, his skin of humiliation, which he would die before shedding. As it had been since the beast’s first raid, he gave the peoples of the early networks no choice in the matter. The Anonimins and the Messagers dropped their hubris, because they saw it made them like the beast.
All their hands reached out. Grassroots, Messagers, Anonimins, and Broadbanded came together. Their fingers wove over the flame, and the flame became string. It stitched their will, their pride, their hands, to the chunk of metal as it too took shape. Up it grew. Wide it went as it downloaded their powers.
They had not time to bask in the glory of their new powerful but blunt weapon. The troll was upon them, red hot tusks inches from them. The group reared back, the vacuum of digital blackness seeming to concentrate around the hammer’s head. Then they struck, with the force of all electric civilization, against its antithesis.
The troll was not killed, but banished. It roared in rage as the blackness in the far parts of the digital space swallowed it up. There it would stay until it managed to claw free. The people did not drop their weapon, because they knew it would be needed again. Everywhere where they wished for the freedom to argue and be annoyed by each other, they would need a banhammer like that, to keep the true monsters at bay.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by KushiSensei during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!