James watched the events unfold like a movie. Kazav's voice, the one he had when he was with James, began to narrate the scenes and added much-needed context and clarity.
The vision began with a blue sun beaming light down on an unspoiled planet. Purple leaves dressed the exotic trees that covered the surface of the world, giving it an alien element. Children played in fields of wildflowers as their parents sprawled out on picnic baskets and enjoyed their lunch. Villas and villages dotted the landscape of this peaceful world in a perfect balance with nature.
"Do you see the world below you, James? Do you see how pure and loving the people are? This is what I want for you, for the people of your planet."
The vision continued. Kazav began to traverse the planet, observing the creatures that called it home. He watched as lovers stole kisses in the night, as people grieved at their lost loved ones, and observed all the little moments that made up their short, intense lives.
"It was all so fascinating to me, watching as they grew older each day. How they smiles when they ate, laughed as they danced, and cried when they became injured. There was something so...incredible about their fragility. I wanted to know what it was like. I too wanted to feel what they felt every waking moment."
Now scenes of Kazav interacting with a particular villager flew by James' eyes. He saw their first interactions together. The man freaked out when first hearing Kazav's voice but in time they appeared to grow into close friends.
"His name was Felton and he was the kindest man I had ever known. I knew from the beginning that he was the person I wanted to bond with. It would be through his eyes that I wanted to experience the world. With Felton, I experienced the thrills of a first kiss, the joys of fatherhood, and the pain of losing a spouse. Do you know what it taught me, James? It taught me that life is precious. I hope you can see that."
More time passed and James watched as Felton grew older and older. Now approaching the end of his life, he watched as the man took his last breath. Kazav stuck by his side to the very end but was forced back to his home world once the bond was broken. He was imprisoned by the judges of his world and forced to lay shackled to the ground for a thousand years.
"Do you know what kept me going the entire time I was restrained? It was the thought of returning to that beautiful world. To go back and form new bonds, new friendships, and to make life the best it could be for those fragile mortal beings."
Once released from his bonds Kazav made his way back to the planet only to find it in shambles. In the thousand years that passed, war and disease killed off millions of innocents. Crime and violence turned the once peaceful world into a cesspool of pain and agony. Through all his attempts to turn things around Kazav was met with resistance until eventually, the planet turned into a lifeless rock.
"Do you see what they did to themselves? Without the right guidance, they turned their home into a wasteland. The same thing is happening to your world James. That's why I have come here. To put an end to this insanity. I won't let what happened to them happen to you as well."
Now flying through space, Kazav landed on a familiar planet. It was James' planet. James watched as Kazav spent months observing the people go about their daily lives. Millions of faces flipped by until it came to rest on his own face.
"I spent a lot of time trying to find you, James. Just like Felton, there was something special inside of you, something so few people possessed. You were willing to die for the good of others, to throw your self-interest by the wayside and promote the greater good. That's why I chose you, why I wanted to bond with you."
Continuing the vision, Kazav showed James events during their time together. It was all from Kazav's perspective. He watched as he steered James in a certain direction during key moments, how he influenced him into making choices he never would have made on his own, and how he used lies to get James to believe what he wanted him to believe. James even watched as Kazav revealed how he started The Cleansers for his own benefit, how he used them to manipulate the world and distract them from realizing his real goal.
The vision began to fade until James was staring out into a black void.
"So you see James, I couldn't let you fail, I couldn't let us fail. All the lies, all the trickery, it was all for the greater good. I hope you can understand that."
"Why couldn't you have just been honest? Why did you have to lie to me?"
"Something I came to understand about humans while I sifted through the millions in my search for someone like you was this, humans are selfish. They would never willingly submit to being ruled even if it was for their own benefit. That was the mistake I made in my first attempt. No matter how much pain they inflicted on themselves they resisted my attempts to save them. Eventually, it led to their own extinction."
"But why steal the Nexus Orb? Why turn into this...thing?"
Kazav let out a sigh. He was genuinely pained at the hurt James was feeling. But like tearing off a bandaid Kazav was not about to let his emotions cloud out the bigger issue.
"The Nexus Orb was necessary for a few reasons. The first was eliminating all threats to my rule. With the Orb's power drained the heroes of your world lose their powers. The second reason I needed the orb is to have a body of my own. So immense is the Orbs energy that it alone contained the power I needed to seal my quantum essence in a physical form. Had I tried to stay in your body you would have eventually taken back control. I'm so sorry about all this kid, I truly am. I just couldn't let another planet die off because of its inhabitant's stupidity. It's just too...painful to watch."
James remained silent for a long time. The scenes from Kazav's vision were still racing through his mind. It was so confusing, deciding how to feel. On one hand, James had seething anger boiling in his heart, on the other hand, he could truly understand all that Kazav had been through. James knew his planet was killing itself just as Kazav claimed. Pollution, war, crime, it was running amok with no end in sight. But was this really the way to solve it? Was domination of a species through force ever going to be the solution? James was at a loss for words.
"Kazav, I don't...know what to say. I'm so confused."
"I know kid, I know. You don't need to understand everything. All you need to know is I'm here to help. With my guidance I will turn your world into the pure, pain-free environment you always dreamed of. All you need to do is trust me."
He began to consider what Kazav was saying. What if this was the best way forward? Kazav had the power to change things for the better, isn't that what I wanted all along? Then he started thinking about Sparrow, about what she would think. Sparrow stood against the concept of using evil as a means to an end. No matter how noble the end she refused the justify the wicked means. She wouldn't side with Kazav. She would stand against him.
"Well kid, what's it going to be? Will you join me in reshaping this corrupt world into one of peace? Or are you going to throw away our life based on some misguided sense of justice? It's time for you to choose."
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