There were three things in the head of the Titanium Tyrant and they were wrath and grief and pain, and the fourth was a bullet.
He should not have failed. He could not have failed, and these thoughts were a litany in his head that never ended. He was the man who conquered fate and the world was his work and so everything in it that was wrong he could have prevented, and Thei was dead and she was dead and he had failed and -
When he died his hands were torn and blistered from the workshop; the workshop his daughter had wrested him from, and his eyes were sagging with sleep, the sleep his son had cost him when he went to war, and his armor was dusty, dusty as it had not been worn for months -
Catherine came to him three times; once to hint that his plans were unwise, and once to tell him they were wrong, and once to say plainly that they had made a tragedy, and he was the Tyrant and he had conquered fate but she was right and he was wrong and it was a lie, it had always been a lie, and his children’s knights were killing each other in the streets and Elizabeth had murdered Proteus and Steelmind and Julius was sweeping through the streets in a thousand bodies killing everything that moved and from left and right there was blood and death and Novapest was in ruins (see how you rule your people, King!), and the Titanium Tyrant had taken up the Durendal armor, and never checked the safeties and gone to bring order to the world and in his head he had been thinking that he had failed and she was dead and it had all been a lie, all of it, a lie for twenty-eight years since his little girl first gurgled up at him, and it had been hopeless before that, all of, it, the world never needed him and he'd failed it all and she was dead -
Perhaps he would have seen the bullet coming. Perhaps he had seen the bullet coming. It shouldn’t have mattered, because even with the helmet down (they had to see his face, they had to know it was him, he had thought - no, not thought, he had not thought since Your Majesty died -) the Durendal armor had bullet-deflecting shields -
They would have been famous last words, if he’d thought to say them. Instead the last thing he thought was that Stheno Balog, Gorgon Queen of Novapest, was dead.