None of my incarnations has ever been very good at pretending to be nice.
Yes, that is an understatement, from a purely objective perspective. However, when you are a sentient universe-eating monster that used to be a fat, bald otaku from a frontier planet in a rather pathetic galaxy in an even more pathetic universe, it is kind of hard to understand how to be ‘nice’.
Understand, I was just out to have a few drinks, perhaps eat some of the more nasty criminals that infested the city of Neo Lovenia, and maybe find a few people worth loving… I had no intention of getting involved in something so utterly boring as a slum-dwellers’ riot when I left the sewer-level apartment I’d chosen more out of memories of a certain child’s cartoon back ‘home’ than any practical reasons. Unfortunately, as with most matters involving mortals, I wasn’t exactly given a choice whether to get involved or not.
Especially when a really pretty girl hidden under the rags of a filthy slum-dwelling piece of mortal trash was tossed off a bridge, straight into my arms…
That, in and of itself, would not have been much of a problem. On any other day, I would have simply eaten the girl, made her into one of my trillions of immortal servants, then gone on about the business of getting myself debauched in the biggest city on one of the most degenerate planets in all of that particular universe.
Unfortunately, the men in the silly blue robes with the magic staffs had the bad taste to try to blast me with lightning bolts, probably thinking I was one of the girl’s allies. Since this verged on that most terrible of all sins, incivility, I decided to retaliate in kind.
It wasn’t my fault that the fragile matter of that particular space-time continuum wasn’t up to the task of withstanding the equivalent of a sigh of exasperation from me.
The bridge, the rioting slum-dwellers in their filthy rags, and the entire unit of what passed for police on that particular sorry excuse for a civilized world, were suddenly wiped from existence, along with a large portion of the surrounding streets and buildings… and a perfect half-sphere of the water running through the reservoir below.
Needless to say, I was somewhat dismayed. While I tended to devour all sorts of nasty things in my true form, I generally refrained from drinking the water on planets like that one… one could never tell just what was in it, after all. The oily taste of rotten fish and the bits of effluvia that tended to infest the waters on backward worlds like this one filled my mouth, reminding me of why I generally refrained from such activities when in mortal form.
The girl in my arms was quite unconscious, and I was briefly tempted to just toss her in the river and be done with it… but she was also unreasonably pretty underneath all that grime. So pretty, in fact, that she reminded me of my own mortal days, when I spent most of every day staring at a computer screen at animated beauty because the world around me was so ugly. As such, I believe that it is only reasonable that I should be forgiven for deciding to refrain from eating her before I got to know her.
Once an erogamer, always an erogamer, after all.
Having returned to my home, such as it was, I found myself at a loss. Being a sensible creature, I’d long-since arranged for my own pocket dimension full of all the creature comforts to follow me wherever I went, and there was no chance of trouble from the outside entering without my permission. Unfortunately, I had seemingly lost my wits, deciding to bring a mere mortal child, however pretty, to my sanctum, full of walls of eroge, anime blu-rays, and video games from every era of my pox-infested homeworld’s technological age.
As such, I was quite well-aware that my home wasn’t exactly suitable for the inhabitance of beings of the female persuasion. The nightmare of many otakus yet to obtain the power of true enlightenment, of taking a girlfriend home only for her to find out about his hidden passions and reject him furiously, briefly raised its head.
I shook my head, smiling somewhat wryly at my rather prosaic worry. After all, if all else failed I could always eat the girl anyway. Pretty as she was, she would be even prettier with glowing orange eyes and a bear-trap smile full of endless hunger. However, now that I had refrained from eating her once, I found it difficult to consider doing so anyway. I am nothing if not stubborn, as a particularly bone-headed (literally) Neanderthal discovered when we got into a headbutting contest during one of my many pleasure trips to my homeworld’s distant past.
So it was that I found myself transforming the girl’s rags into a simple kimono (again, once a weaboo, always a weaboo), cleaning her body by the simple expedient of turning all non-living matter on the surface of her skin into quick-evaporating anti-bacterial soap.
Why did I have to inherit the original’s otaku-obsessions? I wondered, feeling a bit exasperated. All of the avatars made by the original have their own quirks and individual leanings, though the essential nature of the being we represent is unchangeable. However, I am one of the few unfortunates to have inherited the original’s ‘hobby’ and tastes.
The one thing all of us inherit is ‘hunger’. It takes different forms, depending on the individual, but all of us eat people. If it is the simple fondness one might have for their favorite meal, the result tends to be what most mortal races would call a ‘monster’. The individual’s basic personality survives being eaten… but their body and their desires are changed drastically. In the billions of years since my maker had eaten this particular universe, I’d come to understand just how differently our emotions toward those we eat effect various species.
If we happened to actually know and like the person in question, the result that came out the other side was generally superficially unchanged… after all, the more we know and like someone, the less likely we are to want to turn them into a duplicate of ourselves.
But I digress. I was speaking of our ‘hunger’. In some cases it manifests as lust, in others it manifests as greed, in some it manifests as sadism, and yet in others it can manifest as a desire to kill. It isn’t always negative… if it was, very few universes would have managed to survive our presence.
In my case, it is pride, the desire for recognition given free reign. Need I state how paradoxical my otaku hobbies and my ‘hunger’ are? I’ve not quite gone so far down that path as the original went… so I’m not about to proudly state that I love eroge to the world. Unfortunately, that meant that I was generally forced to hide my hobbies on whatever world I chose to use as a foothold at a given time.
As such, I vanished the various otaku paraphernalia in the room, transforming the walls into something resembling the inside of a castle lord’s room from the Middle Ages (imagined by me), with a four-poster canopied bed, deep purple silk sheets, covering the walls with bookshelves filled old-fashioned hand-written, hand-bound books in the local language (translated in an instant). As a bow to my ever-present weabooism, I left the katana and wakizashi hanging sheathed on nails driven into the wall and the set of samurai armor I’d created in one of my all-too-common fits of obsessive madness on its stand in the corner of the room closest to the heavy varnished-wood door.
I took another look at the girl and sighed deeply. Her fuzzy black cat ears and silky black tail attracted my otaku-obsessions like a fly to honey, and the fact that she was a Japanese-style bishoujo only made it worse (considering the whole reason this universe had been devoured was because the original found out there were naturally-occurring cat-people there).
The urge to eat her was briefly overwhelming, but it soon receded, tamed by certain… other feelings. Unlike the original, I have some restraint, after all.
I picked her up, threw her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and carried her over to the bed, where I dropped her, covering her with a down-filled quilt I materialized out of thin air. Her white, oh-so-white skin which contrasted so wonderfully with her midnight-black hair once again invited me to dine upon my guest, but I had little difficulty suppressing the urge this time.
That done, I picked a random book off of the shelves and began reading, Hmm… Waylander by Gemmel… my original’s tastes are a bit predictable. I reflected as I waited for her to wake.
The story was about a kingslayer assassin, and it was written by one of the original’s childhood favorite authors. While the story started as a straightforward revenge story, describing the rapid collapse of the man who became Waylander into the worst pits of human nature, it was still an enjoyable read… very much like cheap fantasy junk food.
A few hours later, I sensed her stirring in the bed, her ears twitching and her breathing becoming shallower. An instant later, she shot upright, screaming.
Irritated, I created a sound barrier around her head and waited for her to stop. The cat-like ears of the native form I was using were highly sensitive, and her screaming could have awakened the dead.
I observed her closely, seeing that her wide, unfocused eyes were a large, brilliant emerald in color and her teeth had the prominent canines that distinguished her visually from humankind, together with her ears and tail.
Eventually, her eyes focused, and her screaming stopped, and I released the sound barrier, waiting for her to speak.
“…w…wh…who are you?” She asked in obvious confusion, her voice hoarse, most likely from the screaming.
“My name is Clephas.” I replied, giving her what I thought was a gentle, reassuring smile.