It had been nearly two months since Garren's death and the horrible
memory began to fade from Finster's mind. Rita had been pleased with his
creations and had chosen to favor him even above others when it came to
decision making in battles. She had loosened her hold on him over the days
when she learned that he hardly had a desire to run from her touch any
longer and allowed him to see Selina and his son at least twice a week.
Selina had named the boy Tiare which meant "strong spirit" in their native language and it had been her grandsire's name. His eyes did indeed look like Finster's but he seemed to take after his mother in most cases. He lived up to his title and hardly ever cried like most children. He spent most of his time sleeping which gave Finster and Selina time to talk with each other.
She informed him of how she had been treated by the putties after Rita had finished whipping her. They had tried to take Tiare away from her at one point but she wouldn't allow it. In fact, the most she would allow the creatures to do was to come into her room once a day and deliver a baby bottle and some clean clothes for the both of them. She never dared get the bottle anywhere near Tiare for fear of what they may have put in it and preferred to nurse the child herself.
Finster listened to her problems and rarely spoke of his own. He couldn't bear to burden her her with extra worry. He hadn't told her of Garren and shuddered whenever she asked how he was getting along. He forced himself to tell her that wherever he was, Garren was happy. She never seemed to catch the morbid truth of his words and just responded with a smile. It was better for her to remain ignorant, he decided. He would tell her what had happened when Tiare was a little older and she had some time to relax from the trials of being a new mother.
The people of Arrellia were quickly becoming a thing of the past as Rita and her forces continued to kill them off. The few that went into hiding had been discovered by a troop of putties and had been slaughtered in front of everyone so that an example could be made of them. Finster's monsters kept a close vigil on the people taken as slaves and sometimes, in an effort to make them exert themselves even more, would break the spine or cave in the skull of a slave that they felt was not living up to its full potential.
Rita continued to sit in the throne room observing the havoc with glee. No matter what she did to them, these shivering fawns simply wouldn't fight back making Arrellia her easiest conquest. She remembered what she had gone through to conquer Titan and how many soldiers she had lost.
Goldar was one of the mightiest among his race and she had taken him as a prisoner. After nearly a year of battering and prodding, she had finally broken him and claimed him as her own. Finster was nothing compared to Goldar if she didn't count wit as an element. Her problem was, too much wasn't enough as far as the attacks went and she had ordered Finster to create a new string of mightier putties as well as new monsters. When he protested, she threatened to take a knife to Tiare's throat and so he began to carry out his orders at once, all the while cursing every drop of blood in Rita's body.
* * *
Finster looked out a window of the ship. Rita kept promising him that they would soon return to the lunar base and that he would forget all about Arrellia. In a way he hoped that he would because he could not bear the pain that he had dealt with over the past few weeks. The only reason that he hadn't ended his life the few times that he had the chance was because he knew that it would destroy Selina.
Rita had taken note that his eyes were bad and so had him fitted for a pair of spectacles. He thought that they made him look absolutely ridiculous and that they magnified his eyes until he looked like a fish but Selina advised him that if he could see better then he should wear them. She also said that they made him look scholarly to make him be less self conscious about them. His latest attire consisted of a heavy blue lab apron and a blue headband to keep his hair out of his eyes.
A line of his people passed by the window, chained together and hauling a large carriage, Finster turned away in disgust. He wished that Rita would allow him to go on by himself so that he could be alone with his thoughts but wherever he went, Goldar or a group of putties followed. Looking behind him he realized that there were three putties posted at the doorway watching him closely. He spared them a look of contempt and whirled away from the window.
As he pushed by them, he heard the putties begin scampering after him. Not knowing why he did it, Finster broke into a quick trot and then a full run as he tried to lose them. He crashed headlong into a thick door and heaved against it until it creaked open and he continued on until he reached the control room. Rita and Goldar were nowhere in sight much to his relief as he slipped out of one of the open doors and into the sunlight.
He realized that there were guards everywhere and was intimidated only a little before running on ahead. The guards watched him for a moment and then ignored him. They had recognized him as one of Rita's workers and since Rita was wrecking havoc somewhere they thought that perhaps she had called for him. They didn't realized their error until the other three putties burst out of the ship and into their midst, burbling that one of the slaves had escaped. By then of course it was too late to chase after Finster and so the guards chose to disregard it and told their comrades to do the same.
After nearly a half hour of traveling, Finster could see the ruins of where he had once lived and stumbled toward it. Putties and monsters filtered through the abandoned homes and observed as slaves toiled in the hot daylight. He was somehow able to creep around the grim activity and find his way to his own household. The front door was missing and so he simply walked inside.
Everything was in shambles. Chairs had been broken, books had been torn to pieces, and cloth lay shredded in unrecognizable ribbons on the floor. Finster decided that there was no reason that he should check for anything that had survived the attack. Rita had more than likely taken it for herself. He walked down the hallway and into the bedroom that he and Selina had once occupied and was not surprised to see that the bed had been slashed at and all of the furniture within looked as though it had been burned.
He leaned up against the threshold of the door and could do nothing for several minutes except stare at the ruin that he was surrounded with. Indeed the soldiers had made sure that their work had been thorough. There was one thing that ate at him though. For the arrival of the cub, Finster had bought Selina a silver amulet to wear around her neck and he had hidden it in a place that she would never think to look.
Getting to his knees, He crawled to a loose wall panel and pulled it open. It was still there and glinted brightly at him though it had been covered in dust. He brushed it off and gingerly layed it in his breast pocket. If he could somehow get back into the ship without Rita knowing that he had been gone then he would give Selina the amulet the next time that he saw her.
There seemed to be nothing else that he could rescue and so Finster decided that it would be best to leave. He stood up again and was just beginning to head out when he heard Goldar's raspy voice outside.
"What do you mean that he escaped?" Goldar roared. There was a faint response and then a loud growl. "Find him and return him to the ship at once! He cannot run free today of all days!"
_Oh? And why can't I?_ Finster thought to himself as he heard Goldar retreat. He waited for a few more minutes and then raced out of the house as fast as his legs would carry him. He followed his own tracks through the mud and sand back to the ship and crawled into the control room with his remaining energy.
He stayed collapsed on the floor for a moment, panting thickly and then he stood up. To his horror, he saw that Rita was standing with her back to him by one of the large panels. He wondered for a moment if she had seen him and then cursed himself. Of course she had seen him!
"You went out without my permission." she said quietly. Finster watched as she turned to face him, her face tought with anger. "You deliberately disobeyed the rules, Finster!" she cried but did not attack him as he thought that she would. "No. I'm not going to punish you this time. Enough is going to be done when the day reaches its brightest point. Finster was about to ask her what she meant but she whirled away before he could. Confused, Finster headed down one of the winding halls and heaved open the door to Selina's room. He knew that he wasn't supposed to but he simply had to see her.
Inside, the bed and cradle were empty but a fresh bundle of clothes had been laid out for both Selina and Tiare on a table by the door. The bed was made and there was no sign of a struggle which puzzled him further. He sat upon the bed, feeling the weight of the amulet in his pocket. Where had they gone to? His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps in the hallway. He turned to see Rita standing there with a scowl on her face.
"I thought that I might find you here." she said placidly. "I want you, Finster, to come with me today while I venture out." Finster cringed but got up from the bed and came to her side.
"Please tell me mistress," Finster said in his usual low key voice. "Where have my mate and child gotten to?" Rita avoided eye contact with him.
"They are not far." she said at last, not wanting to tell him the truth. He seemed to accept this and followed her as she strode out of the ship and began the long walk back to civilization. When they reached the small, once quiet, village there was a large crowd gathered around something. There were too many people to see what it was though as Rita and Finster manuevered closer until they could see what the commotion was all about.
Up on a large platform, Goldar stood giving a speech about something or other. Finster wasn't exactly sure. He held in his paws a very large blade... much too big to just his sword. Behind him was a line of unfortunates that had been sentenced to die. Finster didn't know this as Rita guided him even closer to the platform.
"Before you stand the fools who would not follow Rita's commands. For those who like, you shall see them die in front of your eyes." Goldar roared. Finster felt a breath choke up in his throat. He was going to kill all of the people that stood before everyone. He watched silently as the first was brought before the crowd. He was a lanky young man with a gray tint to his fur and he was wearing a horrified expression as he was led before Goldar. The monkey forced his head down onto a small wooden block and called two monsters over to hold him still.
The blade came up and then crashed down again, neatly severing the young man's head from his body. The crowd silenced and the monsters let up a cheer. Finster cried out in horror as blood spurted across the platform, staining the white boards brown. Goldar picked up the severed head and held it high for all to see as the body gave its last convulsive kicks before it died. The body was hauled away by a pair of beefy putties and the next victim was brought to the soiled block.
So it went, one by one the condemned were brought before the crowd and one by one they were killed. Rita let up a jubilant cheer along with the monsters each time the blade whisked down and ended someone's life. To Finster, she was no longer a woman. She and the rest of her followers had become a bloodthirsty pack of jackels. He saw her gown become scraggly fur and her face elongate into a sharp snout. Her tail whisked back and forth as a thick foam of slaver formed over her jaws. She yowled and barked her ferocious bloodlust each time the pack male brought down the prey. Frightened, Finster shook his head and Rita returned to normal. She glanced over at him.
"Enjoying yourself?" she asked with a wicked grin. Finster glared at her angrily. "Finster, what do you care if these wretches die? What were they to you?" she asked curiously.
"You will never understand Rita. You don't have a heart and therefore you can't understand." he said flatly and turned to leave. His shoulder was instantly cought in her vice-like grip and he was yanked back to her side.
"It is you who doesn't understand, Finster." Rita hissed. She caught his face in her free hand and turned his head toward the platform as a sobbing female was destroyed. "You see them? You're no longer a part of their world. You are better than they are." Finster gasped and twisted out of her grip.
"You can take my life Rita and you can torture my mind however you like but my soul still runs freely with theirs. Nothing you can do will change that." he growled.
"That may be Finster but you are mine and don't you ever forget it!" Rita told him sharply, displaying her fingernails.
"How could I forget the woman who bonded me cruelly and took away all that I cared about?" he whispered so that she wouldn't hear him. She had turned back to the executions and was cheering again. He sighed and tried to look anywhere but the platform. Behind it was the long line of people who were awaiting their turn on the block. In it were adults and children alike and most were crying. It was heart wrenching to see and even worse to believe.
Toward the back of the line, he saw someone carrying a small bundle and trying to keep a stone expression. As the line moved, the figure drew closer and he could see that it was female. Soon she was within plain sight and he saw that it was Selina carrying Tiare in her arms. The child was crying and she did her best to quiet him.
"Hush little one," she whispered. "We need to be strong for your father's sake." She didn't see Finster standing within twenty yards of her with tears beginning to sting his eyes. He pushed through the crowd, avoiding Rita's eyes until he was up near the platform where someone had just been killed. A few drops of bright blood dripped onto his forehead and he ignored them. He had to get to Selina before it was too late.
She must have seen him because her eyes suddenly went wide and she tried to break ranks. She was rammed in the belly with the hilt of a guard's sword and knocked sprawling to the ground, still clutching her baby to her chest. Finster tried to break through the line and get to her but he was held back by several strong putties and surrounded by a throng of gibbering monsters. With a cry of outrage he tried to break free but to no avail.
Goldar watched him from atop the platform and then a smile creased his grotesque features. He dismissed the elderly man that he was about to kill and leaped off of the platform to where the line was. His red eyes searched until they found Selina and Tiare and with a growl he pulled them up onto the platform. Finster redoubled his efforts as he tried to break free, hardly being able to see anything through the mist of tears in his eyes.
"Bring him up here." Goldar commanded. The monsters dispersed as the putties dragged him up onto the wooden planks of the platform and dropped him before the jeering crowd. Finster's head hit the hard wood and for a moment he saw red stars but he didn't have time to worry about that as he was pulled to his feet and restrained by three other, much larger putties.
"And now Finster it all comes down to this." Goldar chortled as he grabbed at Selina's hair and yanked her downward. She still clung to Tiare even as it happened and heard with horror as his tiny head hit against the end of the edge of the block. His eyes shut and he had stopped his crying abruptly.
"My baby!" she shrieked. "You killed my baby!" she tore out of Goldar's hands, leaving him with a handful of hair and kicked him in the groin as hard as she could. She did little damage because of his heavy gold armor and succeeded only in hurting herself. The pain didn't seem to bother her as she leapt up onto Goldar's chest and directly into the blade that he was holding. It plunged into her breast and through her back. With a shriek, her world dissolved into a milky haze and for Selina the horror was over.
"No!" Finster cried, struggling violently and sobbing. "How could you Goldar!?"
"Very easily." Goldar laughed as he gave Selina's dead body a poke with the end of the blade. "Would you like to be next?" he asked menacingly.
"Yes! Take me!" Finster cried, falling to the platform with an agonized expression on his face. "End my suffering, Goldar, as you did for her!" Goldar looked blankly at him for a moment and then shrugged. Finster watched him raise the blade and closed his eyes as he awaited the killing blow.
"No, Goldar you dimwit!" Rita cried above the crowd and hustled toward the platform.
"Kill me." Finster hissed with much venom in his voice as he lifted his head and exposed his throat. "You know that you want to." Goldar looked from him to Rita and then a confused expression crossed his face.
"Uhhhhhhh..." was all that he could manage.
"Do it!" Finster shouted. "Or crawl back under your rock with the other snakes!" Goldar brought the sword over his head and held it there, wavering.
"Goldar! Have you lost your marbles?" Rita shrieked as she stomped onto the platform and grabbed the blade away from him. "Don't kill him! He's valuable!" The putties had released Finster and he remained slumped on his knees in dull shock, gaping at Selina's dead body and then at Tiare's.
_This cannot be true,_ his mind told him. _It can't be!_ The argument between Rita and Goldar faded to a dull buzz in the back of his head as the shock began to wear off. He leaped up, cutting Rita short and ran to the edge of the platform. He threw himself off head first and fell down to the hard ground. He heard his neck crack dimly smiled as his world faded. _I'm free,_ he thought as a small crowd began to form around him.
* * *
When he awoke, Finster was lying on his back on a thin mattress with his neck in a tight bandage. As his eyes adjusted, he saw that Rita was standing over him wearing an enormously evil look.
"I should have left you to die." she sneered. "Get up." He refused to listen to her or even acknowledge that she exsisted which made her even more enraged. She began pulling at his shoulders and then pulled him into a sitting position. To make things harder for her, Finster went limp so that he wouldn't stay where Rita had put him.
"Why didn't you?" he croaked. "Why didn't you let me die?"
"Because I need you." she said quietly.
"The only thing you need is to be taken down a notch or two," he rasped as he averted his eyes. She clapped her hands and a putty came running with a small pot in one hand that contained some musky smelling ointment. She took a generous amount on the ends of her fingers and smeared it over his neck. The tendons and muscles stopped aching almost instantly and he could soon move his head freely back and forth again.
"Finster, be grateful that you are alive. With you and Goldar at my side we will conquer the universe." she told him, trying to make him a little more enthusiastic about his work.
"I don't want to conquer anything." he moaned. "I want Selina and Tiare back." His mind flooded with the painful memories once again and his hate was renewed as he stood up and glared at Rita.
"They're being buried today if you would like to go and see them." Rita said, looking idely at her nails. He felt tears run down his face, stinging his eyes. He knuckled them away and tried to ignore Rita as she went into detail about how they would be buried in a mass with all of the other unfortunates. He turned his thoughts to the better times; Selina telling him that she was going to have a cub, their walks together by the water, and even their arguments had a place in his heart. Only then did he realize how much he would miss her and how much he would miss his son who he had only begun to know. Rita saw that there was no point in trying to talk to him while he was in this state and so left him alone in the infirmary with the putties posing as nurses by the door.
Epilogue Later that day, Finster watched as the dead were thrown into a wide cavity that an army of monsters had dug. When Selina was laid on the top of the corpses with Tiare bundled into her arms he came forward and placed a single white flower on her chest along with the silver amulet that he had meant to be a gift of joy and in one of Tiare's limp hands he placed a small stalk of little blue blossoms.
A gentle breeze ran over him and for one brief shining moment he could hear Selina's laughter again. It was almost as though her spirit had passed through him before it went on to its final rest. He suffered himself to smile a little knowing that they were in a better place with no invasions and no suffering. Suddenly his smile fell and he threw his head skyward.
"Damn you Rita! And damn me too!" he cried out as the grave diggers less than gently informed him to leave. He stood up and backed away only a little as the cavity was filled in. He watched the dirt pile higher and higher until everyone had been covered. He vowed then and there that Rita Repulsa would never have domination of the galaxy. He would make sure that each and every one of his monsters was destined to fail in every situation that Rita set up for them.
Somewhere off in the distance, there was the dry cackle of a sour old witch who had been watching him the entire time and took delight in his misery. He had not been hard to break at all but she would have to keep a close watch on him for the next few days while his wounds were still fresh, lest he do something that he might regret. Arrellia was dead... long live mistress Rita Repulsa.