Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Hope you're all doing well on your stories, unlike me! I'll see you next year!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Hope you're all doing well on your stories, unlike me! I'll see you next year!
If you feel like lost and alone, I'll find you
Hayate The Combat Butler
The World God Only Knows
10 days left I hope you guys used the time I ave you effectively ;)
click this and help me raise my Pokemon http://pokefarm.org/_ext/user/skullreken
Unlimited Moderator Works
I am the bane of the spammers
The ban hammer is my weapon, The rules are my shield
I have banned over 1000 bots
Uncaring to trolls
Nor to drama queens
I have withstood over 9000 annoying PMs to keep the forum happy
Yet i will never be thanked for anything!
So as I pray Unlimited moderator works!
The first part is the quote, I incorporated it into the story.
WORD COUNT: 9,371 (Without Quote)
“The Human sphere that's what it was called, our spiraling arm of the galaxy, before they came. We could have made it great but we ruined it, just like we ruined Terra, carving out our own little empires, looking to satisfy petty material wants and needs and never seeing the bigger picture of humanity as a whole. Maybe that's why they got their foothold, at the center of the sphere no less. They, they are or were, I can’t be sure now, the combined army of an Evolved Intelligence, a malevolent mind with no physical form. Apparently they are were different races conquered by the E.I. and deemed too primitive, violent or stupid to assist it in its goal of figuring out how to transcend reality, so they were charged with slaughtering races like us and rounding up the survivors to toil in their slave-colleges studying to solve the problem.
I look at the desperate situation I find myself in and cant help but laugh; we could have contained them at the start had we only put our differences aside. But no, our governments couldn't have one another making any gains and coming out stronger at the end of the war instead they fought secret black ops wars to undermine each other behind the scenes while showing a united front to the public. I cant say how long I've been running or how long I've been fighting; time is something that has little meaning to me now, I cant even tell if what I remember is my past or if it's my future. I don’t even know what made me think we could run in the first place, it seems so obvious now, if a being was on the verge of transcending reality, what was there to stop it transcending time and space?”
“Transcending reality… That’s it!”
Luc jumped up from his seat with a sudden joy and flipped the page he finished to gain more information. Hoping to continue the read, he was unfortunately stopped by blank pages that filled Ninety-Nine percent of the book.
With a sigh Luc closed the book dissatisfied, “Seems they may not have finished…Perhaps they lost this?”
Turning the book over to the cover, Luc searched frantically for any clues as to who the author was or where it came from, but to his findings, there was nothing but a black torched cover with an awkward pattern lightly branded into it looking a little like that of brick walls which was centered, then some lines indicating a type of tree and what seemed like grass; after some more observations, Luc wasn’t able to figure out anymore about the lines.
Not giving in, Luc decided to check the spine wondering if a name or clue was marked there, but still, he had no luck. Now getting quite flustered, Luc decided he should find the owner to the incomplete writing piece and force them to finish their ideal thoughts.
Just as Luc started towards the storage room door, he heard footsteps as loud as thunder running past and through the rooms around the area he was located. Frozen in his steps, Luc began to wonder why their would be foot soldiers running around abandon towns; and just as he received an answer, the door he was going to exit was thrown open with great force. To his reaction, Luc unconsciously and quickly ran back to the spot where he had found the book.
Quietly sitting in his huddled behind the remains of broken walls and wood, Luc first heard a male’s voice that was deep and stern, “There’s nothing here…”
“Wait!” this voice was feminine and soft, but seemed more forceful, “Someone’s been here…”
In reply -- to Luc’s surprise -- the stronger voice spoke with an abrupt manner towards the woman, “Alright, we will infiltrate this place. Men! I want everything in here that is of object to me brought out in front!”
An enormous rumble of voices that were together shouted, “YES SIR!”
For a moment, Luc thought his ears would blow off his head with the large amount of power the Force replied with, but fortunately he overcame the thundering replies, however what followed after was a surprise to him. As Luc silently gathered himself back together, he realized that the place was to be searched and anything that caught one’s eyes would be immediately reported to the Captains and Generals; even the top Leaders of the organizations. Luc gave a mute sigh and closed his eyes to concentrate as to where the two speakers had gone as well as where the Soldiers had first begun their frantic search for valuable items.
As the noise came closer to his corner, he heard the leader’s voices drown out into the alleyways and then silence. Waiting for his chance, Luc threw the black book into his side pouch -- which he always kept close with him – then drew out his small dagger the size of his hand. Switching his sitting position to a crouch, like a tiger ready for his prey, he waited patiently. Within moments, as the one soldier closed in on the hiding spot, and took his last step, Luc pranced onto the man and soon the soldier was caught in a neck lock. Everyone present turned towards the corner where the Prisoner was held and readied their laser weapons to shoot and kill.
“Whoa now, don’t want to kill your friend here now do you?” Luc spoke sarcastically.
A man to Luc’s right took a step inward, “I dare you!” With boldness, the confident soldier shot his gun.
Luc dropped the hostage he held and ran out the door with all his might. Not looking back, he heard a voice call for back up then more soldiers shoot at him, but lucky to Luc, they missed badly. While Luc ran, he saw more soldiers who were posted as guards and decided to use the rooftops in the alley to escape the crowds of forces that chased him. When he reached the end of the alleyway the government infiltrated, Luc saw a monstrous creature that was chained.
The features of the inhumane being shocked him with not fright, but anger. The being was the color of darkish gray and black. The monster held bright red lights in its form along with bright green glowing eyes. The creature obviously had more than one tongue; one seen clearly bright red which stuck out like a snakes and the other slightly turquoise blue but stayed put in the creature’s mouth. The shape of the head was round like a robots but jaw ended like the bottom of a snake’s mouth and sticking out of the top mouth were teeth the shape of ant legs that moved with hunger. The place where hair was suppose to grow appeared to look like skinny tentacles moving around like blind-less worms.
“Man you must be in pain dude…” Commenting the creature before him, Luc readied his dagger, and the creature frantically ran straight for his enemy that lay in front of him.
Not a second was spared when a sudden shot was triggered from the left of Luc that the creature fell. Slowly the monster transformed back to human, and to Luc’s surprise, the person was none other than a young school girl dressed in her red long sleeve and black skirt uniform. Leaning against the roof wall, she coughed from the bullet that was currently eating her internal body. Looking up at Luc, she smiled as if saying Thank You. Seeing the blood run from the wound in her stomach – which she held – and the blood around her, Luc felt more than anger and anguish swell up from under his skin. Although he didn’t understand at first why he was angered about her death, Luc unconsciously looked up from the dead person that lay ahead of him and gave his death glare toward the person currently facing him. The enemy, seeing Luc’s glare, only smirked and pulled out his own weapon to fire.
“Feeling sorry for the little girl that died before your eyes?”
The man that was controlling the monstrous girl wore a suit of silver armor that was lined with a glowing color of neon purple. His hair blonde like the sun’s rays and eyes of beep blue, like that of the ocean which is seen from afar. Covering his arms were both chain mails and braces made of stern steel and silver. His glove created of black plastic, and by his side held a weapon that seemed to only be used as a pointer.
Luc swallowed his reckless rant he was about to spout and stayed silent; only gripping the small dagger he held in the palms of his hands.
The blonde haired man began his taunt again, “You should be angry with yourself. That dagger of yours was about to cause the same damage boy.”
More restless and impatient, Luc took a step to charge with killing force, but was caught with a stern hand holding him back. Turning with annoyance, he swung his dagger quickly to the person who held his shoulder.
“Watch it!” the male voice was high yet stern and commanding; it also held a sense of humor that was young and wild.
Following after the young male’s voice was a more forceful yet gentle female tone “Calm down Hunter!”
As Luc let the last comment go, he went in for a low kick to knock down the opponent behind him, but to his disliking, someone grabbed his arm and placed it into an arm lock.
“Agh! Let me GO!”
“Calm down, We’ll retreat for now kid.”
Luc suddenly felt a soft and gentle pat on his head, and then the voice of the enemy which stood faced to him.
“It’s good to know you understand the circumstance Black Ops. I will let you go this time around.”
The female voice gave a small hidden chuckle, “We do not retreat for our safety.”
In shock, Luc’s mind went straight to the word ‘Black Ops’ and in moments, he understood the situation in which he was in. “Crap! What have I gotten myself into?”
Interrupting his thoughts, Luc found himself being picked up and placed over someone’s shoulder.
“H-Hey! I never said I would go with you two! Let me go!”
Ignoring Luc’s request, both the young male and female dashed off towards the edge of the alley and continued.
By the time they stopped to rest, Luc fell into a slumber. The night became clear and the moon shone brightly onto Luc’s closed and unguarded expression.
“Hey Hunter, it’s another six days before we reach the base. Let’s stop for now and rest.”
Hunter dropped Luc and decided to scout the area, “Here Mel, take care of the kid.”
The companion, who had told Hunter to stop, drew out a small knife from her side pocket and threw it forcefully towards the ground where Hunter had just laid the kid. The young male jumped with suddenness then yelled, “MEL!”
Mel looked up with confusion, “What!?”
“I thought I told you to stop doing that! It’s dangerous!”
“But no one got hurt this time.”
Hunter pulled out his dagger with haste while throwing it against the trunk across. In surprise to what her companion did, she jumped back herself with abrupt force.
“There, see Mel? Even you got scared.”
The female companion knitted her brows with sudden distaste to her peers comment, “That’s because you’ve never done that before!”
Hunter took light and quiet steps to the tree that tightly held the dagger he threw, “Stop, throwing your knife! I’ll scout out this area, stay here and make a fire before the kid gets a cold!” the partner, waved a hand as a sign of leave and walked into the crowded tree shades.
“I got it!” Mel waited until Hunter left her sight then went to build a camp fire to warm up the restless kid that struggled to fight them the first time they met; but before she left to go find dry wood to burn, she turned to with a sigh and stared at the body that lay quietly at slumber in front of her.
“He sleeps like a baby…” Mel crossed both her arms for a moment to think.
She then decided to start gathering and left with silence.
By the time Hunter returned from his scout, he found the boy tossing in his dreams.
Hunter sighed, “At least he has a fire.”
He then took a glance at his brown cloak and figured that the restless kid was cold, but just he took off his cloak and was to be placed over the kid, Luc quickly pulled out the dagger – which the two rescuers had placed back in his knife case – and sliced the air and anything else that stood before him. In abrupt fright, Hunter quickly pulled back and surrendered himself with his hands up that continued to hold the cloak.
“Whoa!” Just as Hunter was about to speak, he realized that the kid had just awaken from his sleep in which obviously held an awful nightmare.
Seeing as the person had just awoken with fright, Hunter began to speak with ease, but was interrupted by another, “Hey, what did you do to the kid?”
Hunter’s vision shifted to the left from where the voice was heard and saw Mel. She held two rabbits -- which she apparently mercilessly killed – and a medium sized bird that would be as large as a regular chicken.
“N-nothing, I was about to give him a blanket but he suddenly pulled out his weapon and cut the air.”
The companion from the left of him thought quietly in silence. The two partners soon realized that the boy they had received from the alley that day was now staring at them with confusion and anger. The silent atmosphere remained sometime until Hunter spoke.
“Hey there… Um… are you somewhat hungry?”
Luc continued to keep his gaze but replied, “Do you think I’m a dog? Hunger is the Least of my worries!”
Hunter suddenly reverted and cleared his throat, “Fine! I’m Hunter and this here is M—.”
“It’s Melanie; Mel for short.” She smiled to Luc and then sat across from him, “What is your name kid?”
Struck with sudden hate for the female, he replied to her question with an indifferent tone, “I’m not a kid, and the name’s Luc.”
He saw her smile and within another minute the male companion of hers joined seats with them at the fire.
Now that they were both sitting in the light of the fire, Luc was able to see that the women across from him wore a blood red shirt and white long sleeved armor which matched her black belt holding the weapons armed; her white plastic pants was complimented with a double sided sleet dress that was also colored red seeming as though the two top and bottom connected, but was seen as separate because of the white-ended color at the bottom of the shirt which was cut like a ‘V’. Her armed shoulder pads seemed strong and sturdy like that of a shield, colored black at the top then white at the bottom. Luc also caught a glimpse of the armlet which she wore to protect herself with; it was colored bluish mist with dark gray, giving it a faint notice of color in the night of the lighting fire. The length of the brace was from her wrist just to the point of her elbow, but about two inches off. As he continued to observe Melanie, he noticed the black glossy gloves she wore on both hands and understood that what she wore was for up-front battle in a dangerous war. Luc also saw that the female’s blonde hair was braided back except for the loose bangs that flowed mostly to the right side of her face; her gray eyes gave her face a stern and commanding look that was able to take the role of a male-leader, but still remained to look feminine.
“Luc was it?”
Luc suddenly snapped from analyzing Melanie and turned to the man with dirt brown hair that calmly spiked up and held from his vision by a dark mud colored head band, which went around his whole head and dangled from the back all the way down to his waist. Luc caught Hunter’s dark gray eye that was revealed on the right, but wasn’t able to see the left because of the black eye patch which covered the other. His clothes looked lighter and more revealing than the females, which only covered his chest part, neck, and mouth to the bridge of his nose. The color was green and stained with some blending brown and darker types of green. Luc saw that Hunter slung a small pouch that went around his right shoulder and stayed on the left side of his rib cages; it also held a green forest color and seemed unnoticeable unless really observed. The pants were stained the same colors as the upper shirt, but there seemed to be a weapon that looked like a small pistol strapped around his right thigh. At the knee, there was a green colored pad that was apparently made out of plastic or metal and also strapped with a dark brown belt. Hunter’s shoes were colored the same green as the knee pad and looked snuggly tight from above his ankle to the soles of his feet. Luc saw that Hunter also wore some gloves on both hands but seemed to be made of softer fabric and lighter material that was colored green, stripped with a darker green and spotted dark brown just above the hand; the gloves didn’t fully cover his fingers like Melanie’s, but was cut before the second joint of the fingers that bent in again. Covering everything else Hunter wore, was the forest brown colored cape that was momentarily taken off to become Luc’s blanker of warmth, but now only held in the lap of its owner.
Hunter waited patiently for the silent boy’s reply, but when he received none, he asked again in a more commanding tone, “Luc correct?”
Luc again returned to his senses, but only nodded.
Hunter gave Luc a look of interest, as if to ask him what was he thinking, but asked something else,” Why were you in the abandoned town?”
Luc stayed silent, and then remembered that he held the book that supposedly spoke of transcending reality.
“Where’s my pack?!”
Both the female and male who sat in front of him looked at Luc with sudden surprise, seeing as the first thing Luc asked for was his pack.
Melanie then smiled, “The pack was your pillow.”
Hunter gave an eye of confusion to the boy’s question and then asked him again, “Were you stealing goods in the abandoned town?”
Just as Luc ran to his pack to see if the book was untouched, he froze in thought of the question the man asked him. Seeing Luc’s reaction, Hunter gave a serious look to Melanie.
“What did you find?”
Luc could feel the old welcoming gaze change slowly to a cold stare and curious mind. The eyes pierced him like sharp blades made of icicles, cold and frozen. Luc suddenly remembered that the two presently with him were Black Op soldiers and they may kill him for the information or item.
He swallowed hard and thought to himself, “Damn it! I forgot they were soldiers… If they found out I have something relating to the past they’ll kill me and place me on their wanted list… What to do… Shou—”
Just as Luc began to think of an idea, he heard footsteps approach him; turning with great force, he caught Hunter nearby. Luc suddenly felt corned and realized that they lay camp at the edge of a cliff. With a quick impulse, Luc got up from where he knelt and stood at the edge with his pouch in hand.
Both Hunter and Melanie suddenly understood the situation they had place Luc in and froze. Melanie stood up subconsciously and continued to watch both her companion and Luc converse.
“Whoa there Luc, don’t want to jump now do we?”
Luc gave Hunter a little grin, “You don’t, but I’m fine with it.”
Melanie made a sudden movement panicking, “Don’t jump! Look Luc, we won’t take the item away. Let’s just relax and eat.”
For a moment Luc dropped his guard, but shifted his step back to the edge of the cliff when he saw Hunter slightly move forward again.
Hunter then again stopped his steps, “W-wait!”
Retreating, Hunter went to where his companion stood waiting for the two accompanied beings in front of her. Luc saw that the two soldiers had certainly wanted him to stay and supposedly meant no harm, but Luc still wasn’t sure. Although Luc himself didn’t trust the two strangers, somewhere in his gut, he understood that he might run into the two again or they may play a larger role in his act of finding the author to the writing piece; so giving in, Luc just nodded in silence and walked to where he last sat.
Once Luc was seated, and sometime had passed that the three animals were cooked finely and started to have the scent of late dinner, the chat between the small group began again; but this time it was only of minor things like the weather and life in the wild.
“So Luc, have you ever lived out here before?”
Luc, shocked to be asked such an odd question, just nodded.
Hunter seemed to be annoyed by the mute replies that their new acquaintance made and decided to ask a question that wasn’t answered with just a yes or no, “So did you mostly fish or hunt?”
The boy realized that Hunter wanted him to speak and decided to reply with words this time around, “…I mostly hunt, a river or lake is hard to find…”
Hunter smiled with satisfaction and continued to eat his rabbit stew and bird wing. This time Melanie stood up and closed in her distance between herself and Luc. Seeing her action and movements, Luc took a little scoot back but was stopped by her voice.
“Stop, I just want to see what kind of a boy we have in front of us.”
Luc became confused, but his confusion was answered with the questions Hunter gave, “Did you know you’re dressed in ragged clothes that seems like from ten years ago? Did you know you have barely any shoes left, and your face mostly covered in soot?”
Luc was lost for a second and finally understood why they thought he was a kid. He finally realized that they saw him as innocent and helpless and homeless because he was dressed as bad as an underground mole or cave man.
“Luc,” Hunter turned to the side of his small pouch and pulled out a small bottle that seemed to be filled with a type of liquid, “Here, this is a special cleaning liquid.”
He threw the bottle at Luc and then took another bite out of the wing, completing his dish of food. Luc looked at the bottle and read what it displayed “Drops of Rain” Luc looked back up at Hunter then at Melanie.
“Your face is filled with dirt, soot, and garbage stains.” Melanie suddenly tossed a handkerchief at Luc and made some hand signs that looked like she was pouring something into her hand; Melanie then charades cleaning her face without touching it and watched Luc observe her for a moment. After seeing Luc’s understanding expression, Mel decides to walk back to her seat and hand her peer another dish of food to finish.
Obedient and understanding of what Melanie gestured to him; Luc twisted off the cap of the Liquid Soap bottle and placed two drips, soaking the handkerchief in minutes. Satisfied with the moisture, Luc brought the soft cloth towards his face and wiped with a gentle yet clean swipe, starting from the top of his forehead, then to his right cheek, and continuing to the other side of the face. By the time Luc finished wiping his face clean of both dirt and garbage stains, he took a last look at the handkerchief he was handed to see the messy smudges that were left on his face and realized the cloth was now tainted with nothing but black stains that were from his skin. Shockingly, Luc quickly stood from his seat, and crossed to where the women watched the fire quietly.
Melanie in a sudden alertness of Luc’s presence spotted the hand that lent back the once clean cloth to her which was now dirty. She smiled with a slight smirk then received her handkerchief; and in doing so, she looked up to the boy seeking for the new face, and was surprised to know that the boy who stood before her was actually the restless and angered orphan that they had picked up. Luc only looked back at her with an astonished look holding her gaze for the slightest moment then hastily returning to where he once sat.
Watching the two who presently accompanied him, Hunter was at awe that Mel was able to sustain some silence at finding the boy to be a bit older than they had expected, but decided to wait for one of the two to speak.
After some time, Melanie made up her mind to break the quietness and ask for answers from their guest, “You have a family Luc?”
Both Luc and Hunter shifted their vision to where Melanie sat; Hunter understood her questioning but thought it was too personal and was to speak, but stopped himself when he heard Luc move uncomfortable in his spot.
Luc first began to tension up, but thought carefully of his choices and spoke, “Yes…” his reply was shaky, but as he continued, his voice gradually became more casual, “Well… at least I hope I do…”
As Hunter and Melanie observed the teen in front of them, they realized that he was a runaway from both the government and the Evolved Intelligence. Hunter waited for Melanie to ask another question, but she resisted which seemed as though guilt from Hunter’s perspective, but found it impossible to figure out his partners thoughts. In response to the silence from Melanie, Hunter stood from where he sat and closed in his gap between Luc and himself. Luc began to retreat to the edge of the cliff again, but found that Hunter only came to observe his face; remaining in his spot stiff and frozen, Luc’s arms were wrapped tightly around the bag he always kept with him.
As Hunter was seen nearing Luc, Melanie began her observation of the guest. She saw that he looked around the age of a seventeen now that the dirt had been removed from his face and his hair auburn brown in the light of fire and shaded dark brown in the moonlight. He held no head protection or accessories, but a small necklace that was able to be seen only in the light. Melanie contemplated on what the chain held but gave in once she realized the momentum was hid under his black thin scarf. She saw that Luc also had no gloves to keep his hands warm but his navy blue long sleeve was ragged and seemed to be a bit warm. There appeared to be some cuts and holes of traced adventure in the shirt, but still seemed usable. Luc’s pants seemed to be colored dark brown, but now colored in different types of stains that resembled every part of the world that included garbage stains and some slits that was torn by spikes or chasing robbers. Melanie went back again to where she held the boys face and saw the many cuts and small bruises he remained to keep. His face was more tanned than her skin, but showed thinness as if he starved himself of hunger, leaving him paler than usual. Seeing as Luc remained to have wounds on his face, she began to scan his body for anymore, and was unfortunate to spot more than what she wanted to find.
When Hunter finally removed from his observations of Luc up close, he turned quietly and sat down thinking deeply to himself, snapping Melanie out of concentration. Luc was in confusion at the two adults silence and decided to ask questions of his own.
“Hunter and Mel…correct?”
Both Melanie and Hunter looked up at dismay of Luc’s question, but answered, “Yes.”
“Are you two from the Black Ops?”
Melanie and Hunter stared at Luc for a second, then at themselves. Hunter grinned and Melanie rolled her eyes, “We aren’t really from the Black Ops…”
Luc gave them a confused expression, “Not really? In what way…?”
Hunter replied this time, “You can say that we are the accessories!”
Luc was surprised at how happy he had answered his question, “Why are you happy to be an accessory?”
Melanie quickly smacked Hunter on the head, “We are the investi—.”
Hunter quickly covered her mouth and whispered in Mel’s ears, “Shhh! If you tell him that we won’t find out about the item he has!”
Melanie elbowed Hunter in the stomach and stood, “We are not deceiving a Runaway!”
As Melanie finished her line, Luc realized that they had already figured out who he was and why he was at the abandoned town, “So you knew all along I was a runaway?”
Melanie and Hunter froze. They stayed silent for a moment, but Hunter answered, “Well… your clothes and face said it all really…”
Luc glared at the male adult, “Same did yours!”
Hunter stood from where he crouched, “Hey! That was uncalled for!”
“Well Black Ops are supposed to be a military base unit that is currently batting against the government, so you two are always ready for battle.” Finishing his statement, Luc glared at his two captivators.
Hunter stayed still holding the glare that Luc coldly gave them, but was forced to sit by Melanie.
“We are part of the investigation team. We aren’t allowed to speak of what we do or what part of the Black Ops we come from. Our information we gather is little and unknown to many, but to others like you…” She cut off and stopped speaking.
Luc grew curious of what she had to say, “Others like me?”
Melanie gave Luc a blank and cold stare that burned him like dry ice, Luc knew there was more to the story, but decided to stop pressing. He fell into silence, along with the other two that presently accompanied him.
While the quiet and awkward atmosphere remained to be sustained, there came a sudden noise. First to react was Hunter, then Mel – but never acted as if there was one present – and followed after was Luc. The crack of the branches and steps sounded from a fair distance and continued to move toward the three. Luc saw Hunter grab for his dagger and Melanie continuing to calmly sit as if nothing was heard. The silent suspense between the three was now broken and shifted into a tension of patience; waiting for the unknown being to appear before them.
Luc swallowed hard, and decided to pull out the small dagger incase of danger, preparing to kill, but was instantly reminded of the school girl’s death, and decided against it. As he heard the person near closer and closer, Luc contemplated whether he should team with the Black ops or fight all three and run; but, with an undesirable amount of seconds, the figure appeared. Subconsciously, the teen boy turned his head to find a girl of about his age make eye contact then faint. Shocked, Luc quickly stood up to aid the girl, but was suddenly caught by the arm with a firm and muscular grip.
“Do you know her?”
Luc was familiar with who spoke and twisted his body to loosen the grip Hunter held, but it was useless, “Let go!”
Hunter saw the frustration in the boy’s eyes and lost his grip, “She may be an E.I…”
“She can’t be…” Luc suddenly gave Hunter a straight forward and strong glare, “Why would she be running?”
Hunter pulled his stare away from the held eyes, staying silent; and when Luc received no words in return to his question, he ran to help the fainted girl. Watching the two interact with aggressiveness, Melanie was able to realize that Luc was very self secured when with organization people and not of his own. She saw his compassion towards the abandoned and tormented while his hatred burned with might to the Government, Black Ops, and Evolved Intelligence. Melanie finally took a step forward and drew the weapon that lay hidden within her clothes.
“You are runaway but plan to oppose the three units that are at war.”
Hunter turned hearing a click, “Mel!” In surprise to his partner taking the first draw, Hunter spoke with haste, “What are you planning to do?”
“I plan on killing our enemy.” She leveled the weapon she held and targeted Luc.
“Wait! Don’t shoot…” Hunter hesitated for a moment, and then spoke again, “He’s just a boy Mel!”
For a second, Melanie lowered the weapon, but grinned, “Boys are capable of many things Hunter. It is the investigations job to exterminate those who will hurt us.”
Hunter was about to oppose with another excuse, but stopped when he heard Luc’s own voice, “So that’s what the investigation Black ops do.”
Both Hunter and Melanie shifted their view to Luc who was now currently caring the half conscious girl whom had momentarily fainted.
It was now the new guest that spoke, “Kind strangers, I ask of water and some food; then shall be on my way.”
Luc replied with concern, “But you are about to faint, rest.”
The three observe the girl push Luc aside then stand firmly on her own two feet, “I have matters I need to finish, if you insist, you will also be tracked and killed.”
Luc suddenly twisted his affectionate expression to a more stern and demanding face, “Then we will die.”
This response shocked the girl, “Very well.” She smiled and collapsed again, to only be caught this time by Hunter.
Hunter sighed, and spoke with humor, “Looks like we have another Runaway in our hands Mel.”
Melanie responded to Hunters humorous comment with an angered expression and placed her weapon away, “We’ll question her later, but…” She sharply gave an eye of killing intent towards Hunter, “Luc, we need answers from you.”
Luc was at first frightened, but returned her glare back with ease, “I expect the same from you two.”
Last edited by babiewinx; 01-16-2012 at 07:16 PM.
You Did nothing to begin with, just like before.
- Eco-tan -
Ok sorry for the double post but this is my second half of the story >..>
As the night went on, Luc gave answers and asked questions. The three acquaintances took turns telling their stories with the price of the importance of the others. This continued for some time until the stars disappeared and the rising sun began to shine; and just as the rays of lights hit the mountainous cliff they camped on, the girl which they had picked-up that night awoke with a silent stir. Her long silver hair shined messily in her face and was covered with forest dirt; her eyes were green like a dull emerald just founded from a cave, and her lips cracked from the lack of hydration. She seemed skinny, too skinny for a teen of about the age of nineteen, and her hands cold like the morning river. She seemed to wear thin clothes that layered over her body and tightened by a belt of cloth that showed the color of blue. The clothes she wore was solid tan and seemed to have ripped by gun shots, knifes that have sliced the skin, and the forest of nature. She wore no heavy accessory and seemed like a boring plain youth. When the three realized she was awake, they offered her food to energize herself and gave water to help her pale skin, damaged from the chase. After they observe her eat, there was a stretched silence and burst of curious minds that only spoke with silent. Waiting for their questions to overload her brain, the girl sat quietly and restful; then seeing no movement of the mouth she decided to speak first and hoped to answer all the curious minds that were unable to speak.
“I’m Lucid Gureau. I’m age nineteen and my birthday is in hundred and ten days from here. As you can see I’m currently a runaway and am searching for an item of importance. I seek a book that I had accidentally left in the abandon town near here. Before appearing in that area, I was in the school of the Evolved Intelligence.” When the word Evolved Intelligence was heard from Lucid’s mouth, she saw uncomfortable movements occur, and then rest.
Not hearing another sound or seeing any other movements, Lucid continued on, “The school was not like that from the past. It was cold and cemented. The walls are tall and blank with nothing but bare stones that reached up of about fifteen feet. There are many people there that attend and forced to attend like myself, but different from the ones that choose to go, we are tortured and tormented. Little food is given to us until that one skill that we are forced to work on is mastered. We are treated lower than animals and creatures themselves. Some nights I starve in the lone chamber I am assigned, which I am unable to escape, and cry with loud pain and anger at myself of not being able to leave. The stones are whom I later speak to and no one else, but one day, as I began my regular chat with my silent rocked flat friends, a person’s voice had spoken back. I at first stopped speaking, but with a curious and desperate mind, I spoke again, asking who the voice was. In return they did not answer but only asked if I wished to leave. In a frantic and joyful voice, I replied quickly without thought saying yes.” Lucid paused her story wondering if there were any questions, but it seemed as though the party before her was satisfied with her story and awaited her continuation, “The moment I answered there came a loud explosion and erupting movement that belonged to the Earth. I was in shock and thought that I had gone mad speaking to a rock that just made an earthquake. I at first laughed at myself, but found it later impossible when my jail cell suddenly fell apart. Without any other thoughts of doubt, I hastily sought freedom and ran with all my might out of the hall. When this happened I was about fifteen of age and turning sixteen. The escape was quite difficult and seemed to be a great ruckus since I was not the only one to escape.
“When I reached the outside walls of the school, I found other runaways and ran with them, feeling the free air and earth. I was happy to be un-caged and enjoyed the thought, but in moments that joyfulness was crushed. I was once again captured, but treated even worse; no equally worst, and I was not alone. As you can see I was again caught into another trap but this time established by the government. I was now tormented by whips and sticks and a beating to the face if the orders were not fulfilled. Although I was fed well and better than in the E.I. School, it was still the same treatment. When I was into half of my sixteen years of life, I decided to sign up for a military mission and escape.
“Luckily the government didn’t see through my plan and approved of me after I turned seventeen, since it takes half a year to be approved. It was the perfect time and date; I planned everything perfectly and was bought a birthday present for also gaining the spot in the military unit. I was overjoyed at the thought and was finally able to feel free. In my heart I hated everything with a great desire and only thought of the gift for my unwanted and opinionated thoughts. As I was discharged out of the practice academy unit, I began to jot down my thoughts of the world and the history of what has become.” At this moment, Lucid saw the boy who was dressed in rags shift in his seat in anxiety, then ask his question.
“Lucid…” He held his breath, but seemed to continue, “You know the history of this world—no, Universe?”
Both Hunter and Melanie was momentarily shocked to hear Luc ask such an awkward question, but returned to watch Lucid and see her answer the question.
Seeing as all the eyes were on her, Lucid replied calmly, “Yes. Actually, the E.I. school forced me to learn their side of the story of how they came to enter this wo—Universe. As did the government, but they were more vague in their history than the evolved intelligence did; but of course before I left I abused the government research department drastically since we were more free than being forced stuck in a cell like that in the E.I. school. I learned of many important events and jot them down thinking I could figure out the answer as I gradually experienced the world.”
Luc held his hand up as if to signal a wanted pause to the story, and in return, Lucid stopped.
When all was silent, all eyes went to Luc, “You purposely wrote only to find an answer, nothing more?”
Lucid finally caught onto what her peer meant, “…Yes, there was another reason.”
As if stealing the words right out of Luc, Hunter instead asked, “And what was it?”
The new guest contemplated on telling, but straight forwardly answered with all honesty, “The reason was because, there came a rumor of memories being stolen and wiped away. The person who was able to claim that rightful memory would then be returned to abandonment and stupidity.”
With the finishing statement, Melanie finally spoke, “Before you continue, I will introduce the people who are in your presence.”
Melanie looked to Hunter and nodded, then to Luc only observing, and shifted back to Lucid, “I am Melanie, this is Hunter my companion; and Luc here is also a runaway as you are.”
Lucid smiled at Luc, “I figured.” She then began to observe the clothing and armor the other two wore, “I guess you two are Black ops, seeing as you two are ready for war.”
All three nodded and there came a short silence, but it meant only for Lucid to continue.
Lucid took a deep breath, and then continued her pacing story, “Yes, I wrote for the purpose of lost in interest to the world. I did not care whether I would be condemned or tormented, as I already felt worst than death; but as I finished writing that first page of my thoughts, the area I was assigned to terminate became close. I at first saw it was of an abandoned town and wondered why it would be this area in which I had signed up for, but realized it was of no matter of the area; this was the place of a secret atonement where all three agencies fought so violently to obtain.
“I later found out that there were three areas of sacred power that rested within the earth and gave great powers. The general of charge seemingly saw my confusion and explained to me that the three areas were called Absolute together, but separately, they were each called Oblivion, Abyssal, and Renovation. I was at awe and finally realized my answer. As I strolled away from my leader I began to hide between the alleys of the abandoned town, and when I finally found silence and only disturbances of little creatures, I pulled out my black gift that I received and began to continue my thoughts. I don’t remember what I exactly wrote, but I remember putting something in like this: If people wanted to transcend reality, what was going to stop them?”
With an abrupt suddenness, Luc stood up and grabbed Lucid by the arms, and in reply to this act, Hunter and Melanie quickly got up and was to pull the two away when Luc finally spoke, “I found you! I finally found you!”
Everyone froze, not comprehending what had just happened and what Luc was talking about. Lucid was the first to question, but moved a bit from Luc’s grip.
“What are you talking about?”
“You are the person who I’ve been in search of, the person with the answer!!” Luc said this with excitement and loosing his grip, the thrilled boy went into his side packet he held and pulled out the same old torched black book he found back at the abandoned town.
The girl suddenly jumped up with life and snatched the journal away from the hands of the stranger; while both Hunter and Melanie just stood as statues did and watched the two come to life with abrupt surprise.
“Where did you find this!? I went around the abandon town to find it and even risked my life of freedom to obtain such a secret back!” as she said this, the girl held the book with great strength, as if the book would jump away.
Luc was confused yet excited with questions, “You have to answer all my questions and tell me how you even gathered the thought of transcending reality!”
Like a little boy, Luc’s expression was as joyful as the first time of seeing snow, but when the silence overwhelmed the group, Luc’s glee churned into deep confusion, “What’s wrong?”
The girl stared at the book for sometime then at the three, “I will die with my thoughts. But I will let my story finish.”
Luc stayed silent and realized he was now placed in a worse situation, “Wait… are you being –.”
Interrupted, Lucid spoke her calm tone, but became more firm and serious, “Let me finish, the end is near and the final chapter shall be born.”
Lucid fell into silence wondering if the group will let her finish, and when she received no longer any movements or words, she once again continued her story ‘til the end, “Now, as I began to write, there were still eyes on me. Unfortunately the eyes were neither the Black Ops nor the Government, but the E.I., they supposedly sat waiting to see if the military would come back and break open the gate to the Oblivion. Since, the organizations each held a secret area, and the Government owned this one. When the eyes read what I wrote, they hastily did a background search of my life and realized that my unwanted opinion was a key to opening the first secret area; the gate was the one the E.I. controlled, which was the Abyssal. When I finally realized there was something watching me, it was too late. I was ambushed and taken hostage again by the E.I. but instead of bring the book with me, I accidentally dropped the item into a pipe hole and fell underground to the under town of the abandoned place.
At first I was oblivious of why I was captured and angered at why I was taken back to the E.I., and as I sat quietly listening to the agencies chat, I realized they wanted my brain and was to erase my thoughts only to open their gate and win the other two gates. I decided to finally run. I first jumped from an unbelievable height and somehow lived. I have no clue what happened but I just kept running, never looking back.
“Luckily the E.I. that captured me stayed in the abandoned town and I was able to return to where I believe I had dropped the book. It was a difficult find but I finally reached the little under-home which held the book. I was to burn the thing, but found that…” Lucid stopped and looked back at the book.
She stared at the cover for a bit and closed her eyes, tracing the lines that were indented within the cover. Luc didn’t understand what she was doing and why she stoked the cover, but realized that the book had never had an imprint of scenery when it was first given to Lucid. Hunter and Mel kept watching the two in silence and waited for the story to come to a final end.
Finally, Lucid opened her eyes and spoke, “I shall now show you what I was speaking of when I received the book again.”
She took a breath and placed her pointer finger on the center of the cover. She then moved her finger into an arch; and as she did that something appeared under Lucid that started to glow dimly but was barely noticeable. With picking up her pointer, Lucid again stroked the book, but this time only when down as if making a tally.
In suddenness, the earth began to shake and a small robot appeared from the center of the book. “What is it my creator?”
Lucid stared hard into our eyes and spoke, “show us where our world shall be if the gates are opened.”
The robot twirled with magnificent force and replied, “Granted!”
In a moment’s time, a metal wall broke from the ground and surrounded the four who adjusted their weights to stay standing. After the walls closed, a female robot voice spoke.
“The time is now when your universe is taken from life.”
While the voice died out, the room they were in became pitched black like the caves of underground. Silence filled the area, and then came a noise. It was of the rumbling thunders from the skies, the eruptions of volcanoes, and heavy steps of foot soldiers; in addition to the loud noises, there came a light as bright as the sun, blinding the four watchers with intense lighting. When the party finally opened their eyes, the light was seen from a far and Luc was to first to realize where they stood. He quickly turned and found a familiar image that was similar to a picture he’d seen before. Without any second for Luc to comprehend where he’d seen the image before, Lucid spoke.
“Yes…. The scenery behind us is the image from the cover of the book. It is the last gate that shall be opened and will destroy our New World… no our Current World.”
Finally breaking from the silence, Hunter spoke with a little fear, but was seen covered up by humor, “Is this real?”
Melanie took a step forward and could now feel the heat of the small explosion that was now tearing at the world they were on. She couldn’t believe her eyes nor the feeling and sensation she felt while standing there.
She then asked her question, “How is this possible?”
Luc, Hunter, and Melanie shifted their eyes to the Lucid and waited impatiently for the answer.
To Lucid’s disliking, she closed her eyes and answered all the questions in a more furious and serious tone, “Hunter, this is what will happen if the Gates are open. I hope the lies the Black Ops fed you two are now being doubted. Melanie, it is only possible through the course of this war... and Luc… We are currently in and out of the Galaxy. Experiencing our own deaths and colors disappearing from our world, and seeing the place we wanted so bad torn to shreds. This is all caused by our greed and if only we treated this place better… Maybe this is what happened to Terra…”
Hunter and Mel twisted their heads to Lucid, “You know of what happened to Terra?”
Lucid opened her eyes and gave a little satisfied look, “Why yes I do. In fact I know we destroyed it and we came in search of another to live in… but to think such terror would rest here.”
“What do you know?” Hunter gritted his teeth in discomfort to Lucid’s presence
“I know what you may know and more. From this book I have learned beyond what everyone knows.”
Luc suddenly spoke out of turn silencing everyone, “You started to write again!?”
Lucid did not eye Luc, “Why yes.”
“Even after seeing this… you kept on writing?”
“Yes. I had to. I could no longer kill the life of my own.”
By Lucid’s calm response, Luc became more and more complex with his thoughts, “So you were thinking of transcending reality like me? You wrote all this and knew your life was at stake and tried to increase the rate of killing the Current world?”
Lucid now grew tired of hearing questions thrown at her. She decided to take a step forward and pointed to the blown up galaxy.
“See that. It is our world if the three gates are fulfilled, but this…” she turned and pointed to the scenery of what she called the fourth gate, “This is the fourth gate. I don’t know how my book was marked with the fourth gate…. But this is what the E.I. is after and they understand that it takes only one gate to kill this world and everything that inhabits it.”
Mel was now the restless one, and pulled her weapon out, “So you are also one who resides with us as an enemy.”
Lucid did not turn to face Mel, but continued to speak, “You can shoot… but the world will remain in danger. As I have written in this book, I don’t even know what made me think we could run in the first place it seems so obvious now, if a being was in the verge of transcending reality, what was there to stop it from transcending time and space?”
When Lucid silenced, the galaxy that overwhelmed the atmosphere around the party disappeared and turned black, as if a light was turned off and the movements of others was seen from across each other. In the quietness of the group, there came another robotic voice.
“What else will you like to see?”
Just as Lucid was about to say Nothing, Luc quickly spoke first, “Show us how this book came to claim the fourth gate!”
The robotic voice replied, “Granted!”
In moments, Lucid raised her voice to question Luc, but stopped when she saw what happened. The group observed Lucid become captured and then drop the book into the Pipe. Following the item with haste, there was a sudden light that touched the cover of the book and hastily disappear. At first Luc thought it was a metal stamp, but Melanie answered his thoughts.
“Alchemy… your book entered an old scientist lab that was to control the fourth gate.”
Everyone turned to Melanie and waited for her to finish her explanation, “Black Ops were created for this purpose, to complete the search of the Fourth gate… But the government found us and battled for its greed. Then the E.I. landed to first rule the land, but now wanted also gain the power of the three gates. They hadn’t known of the Fourth gate until you wrote about transcending reality.”
Lucid was now starting to question, “That doesn’t make sense…”
“It does… because in order to obtain the Absolute power, one needs to transcend that of a being. Space and Time need to be gained through a gate, which is why we claimed this gate as Transcending.”
After Melanie finished her explanation, there was an abrupt movement to the whole area and without notice; there came a shot of high beams that came through Lucid.
She cried with pain, but was able to speak, “They’ve come! Release the Transcending!” As Lucid said this, the metal walls broke and what was seen on the other side of the fortification was the troop that Luc saw that night he found the book.
As he observed the familiar faces from the other night, he heard a very memorable voice from his left.
“Everyone prepare to fire!!” As the voice finished the command, Luc turned to find the blonde haired commander which was controlling the monstrous girl.
Luc’s anger suddenly came rushing back, and as he made his move to draw the small dagger in his pocket, a shot was heard. It stabbed him with little force but great damage. Luc could feel the heated laser enter his body and melt him like lava. He cried in pain, but continued to attack, drawing his weapon and throwing to hit the soldier who stood in front of him. As the soldier fell, another shot at Luc, but instead of the same laser that was presently burning his insides, the weapon spat out a bolt that would electrify the opponent’s body, paralyzing the person to death. In that moment of being shocked, Luc saw his past. He saw him kissing his loved one, the skyline of his broken home town, the lives of his dead friends, and his new acquaintances.
As Luc fell to the ground with pain and anguish, the three acquaintances decided to attack, knowing they too were next to be shot at, and as they made their sudden moves to kill the enemies around them, gunshots that seemed to be part of a war were heard and fired. By the time everything came to a close, the three remaining lives in the center of attention fell to their knees and died. The commander of the group smiled with satisfaction and went towards Lucid to pick up the book, but as he touched the cover, Lucid’s gift burned with intense fire.
The pictures i used was from the 1, 4,5,6,8,9,10, & 11th spoiler
Last edited by babiewinx; 01-16-2012 at 07:16 PM.
You Did nothing to begin with, just like before.
- Eco-tan -
He woke up with a start after a loud explosion. The ground was shaking and he could hear the sound of ammunition and loud crashing mixed with animalistic growls and blood curling screams. Smoke filled the air, making it hard for him to see and breathe. He was shocked beyond belief to have woken up under such circumstance but he quickly pulled himself together, uttering a small prayer to induce calm. Panicking would only lessen his chance of survival. Curling in a fetal position, he covered his ears with his hands and remained perfectly still.
Amidst the chaos, he tried to figure out what was happening, his blue eyes scanning his surroundings. But with the thick smoke, he couldn’t see anything clearly. It was then that he realized something so obvious that he couldn't believe he actually missed it. He was still in his sleep wear, barefoot and lying on soft sand. He was supposed to be in bed! Master Jireh won’t be too happy if he found out that he had been sleepwalking, he thought. He should have control of it by now. He groaned, berating himself mentally for committing such a childish mistake.
Some of the smoke parted after some time and hearing no signs of danger nearby, he lifted himself from the ground feeling heavier than usual, his feet burrowing on the sand. His eyes having adjusted to the darkness and with the light coming from the explosion at a distance, he found himself overlooking the sea. He was relieved that he was nowhere near the commotion, despite the noises being so loud that it almost tore his eardrums.
Just when he thought that things would get better for him, he was proven wrong. His sapphire blue orbs swirled with mixed wonder and confusion at the deep red sky that loomed above him. It was the first time he had seen such color fill the heavens. Even though the great expanse was dotted with numerous stars, he couldn’t identify the clusters nor could he find any familiar constellation; he even failed to recognize the ringed planet that was so closely pulled by the planet’s gravity.
“Where am I?”
He was definitely not in the temple city of Jalgare, nor his colony, Nevaeh. He couldn’t be sure if he was in one of the other eleven colonies. Since Terra was destroyed half a millennia ago, the humans have been living in twelve different planets or colonies, each having their own kingdom. But based on his readings, none of the colonies had this distinct red sky.
Only one explanation seemed plausible. He was dreaming. But unlike the previous ones, this particular dream felt more real. Taking deep calming breaths, he sat on the ground with his legs crossed, closed his eyes, cleared his thoughts and focused on waking up. He felt the cold wind brush his arms, the grains tickle his feet. Then slowly he let the soft touches of nature disappear as he pictured Jalgare in his mind, then the temples inside the Sanctuarion and finally, his room where his bed was. He could see it, feel the hard wood floors under his feet, touch the softness of his bed, and hear the trickling of the water by the stream joined by the buzz of the insects…
… and then a high pitched shrill deafened his ears. He shot his eyes open, shivers running down his spine as he whipped his head around. He was no longer in the sandy beach but was instead faced with a different dilemma.
He just transported himself right smack in the middle of a war or rather, a massacre. A few structures still stood on the ground but more than half of the whole kingdom or city, he wasn’t sure, was burnt down into smoke and ashes. He could feel the intense heat of the surrounding inferno. Blood and dead bodies littered the streets, the stench was sickening. But at the thought of vomiting, he suddenly felt a strange presence. He whirled on all directions. But no one was in sight. His heart drummed loudly in his chest and his stomach was tied in knots. He knew he had to hide, for if those who caused this destruction found him, he would never wake up.
He half-walked, half-jogged through a maze, finding his way out of the place but instead, felt a pull leading him closer and closer to the center and not away from it. His breathing was labored and sweat was drenching his clothes but he pushed himself to move forward. He was convinced that he had to understand his dream in order to get out of it. His other dreams were vague and less life-threatening compared to this one that he just wakes out of it, back to reality without doing anything.
Crouching low and ducking behind solid structures for cover, he started searching for clues, for any symbol or word that would at least give him something to work with. He tried to remember what he has seen. He must not forget. He couldn’t explain why, but there was a strong urge or need inside of him to store everything into his memory.
He picked up every artefact he could find and miraculously reached the center buildings unnoticed. It was eerily silent, he wondered if the enemies left already but he couldn’t be careless as he blended himself with the shadows. Most of the structures were left unscathed and he felt strongly that whatever it was the invaders were after, it could be found inside these buildings.
Their facades have a recurring symbol embossed on top, an emblem, of a harp without the strings and a griffin on the center. The golden trimmings, intricate steel and iron designs and rare stones on each of the buildings were an indication of the kingdom’s wealth. A kingdom or even a just a city, with such status would have to be known all through-out the twelve kingdoms. It wouldn’t be hard for him to find out once he visited the Archives the moment he wakes up. The sophisticated architectural design reminded him of Atlantis, a place which he only saw in books and he grew excited with the possibility.
He crossed to the building in a quick sprint, but not his usual speed since he felt heavier. Looking from left to right, he quietly entered the building which opened up to a very huge dome lined with shelves. What seemed to be ultra thin computers lay scattered on the floor and he lifted one up. He ran a finger across the screen and holograms appeared at every touch. He couldn’t recognize the characters. He picked one after the other, merely relying on the images that popped but he soon found his efforts futile.
He was about to leave the building when he heard vicious growls outside. He dropped to his knees in fear. He crouched low and crawled just behind the massive door to take a peek outside. The rational part of him was telling him to run and hide but another part was insisting otherwise. If he survived, he would be the only witness, his conscience urged. Besides, this is just a dream. He convinced himself although he was starting to think otherwise.
What he saw terrified him. There were hundreds of them, rounding up a few of the humans that survived. The humans were naked and were bound in shackles and chains, shivering in fear and looking so small against the massive physique of the monsters. He gulped. The captured humans would be turned into slaves.
They are definitely not humans, he thought, perhaps genetically altered amphibians. He was fascinated with the science of molecular genetics but it never crossed his mind, that humans would create such monstrosities. Their head has the slimy and spotted skin of most amphibians. Black irises dotted their deep set, yellow eyes that are framed by black lids and long, black whiskers arching the top. These hair extensions continue growing on the folded sides of their scalp. Their huge mouths reminded him of lampreys but with elephant tusks for teeth that could easily tear skin.
He was watching them intently when a sudden gust of wind ceased movement of the ferocious invaders. He wondered why but soon realized the reason. Their ugly heads turned towards his direction, baring their teeth at him.
Oh great! Just great! They even have a great sense of smell!
He scrambled on his feet but he lost his balance and landed on his bottom. He still wasn’t used to the change in gravity. He winced in pain but it was soon replaced by immense fear at the sight of the huge mouths gaping so close at him.
Wake up. Wake up. WAKE UP!
He chanted as the deep growls echoed louder within the walls. It was followed by shrieks as one lunged at him.
He closed his eyes. WAKE UP! NOW!
Then there was silence. He remained still and waited. Nothing happened.
Slowly, he lifted his lids, the right one first. There was nothing; and then followed by the left.
He was in his room, the digital clock on his bedside table telling him that he only has three hours before his classes start; and in each passing second, he might lose an important detail from his dream.
Droopy eyes shuttered open and close, as the owner slipped in and out of consciousness. The voice in the background was getting soft then loud until it became an echo inside a tunnel. He was slowly losing the battle to stay awake.
The voice boomed and his eyes shot open, his startled blue orbs meeting the warm brown ones of Master Rohi.
“If you are tired, you should have stayed in your room. You know how I hate my students sleeping on me,” he stated, the lines of old age evident as he gazed at the boy worriedly.
Kel bowed his head in apology and excused himself from the class. They were discussing Astronomy, a subject which he wouldn’t want to miss, especially after his dream last night. But in fear of losing the dream, he stayed up until dawn, making the memory permanent. Kel always confided with the kind professor about his dreams, depicted them through his drawings. But showing it to him might have to wait.
Kel exited the learning halls through the back door and walked down the cobble stone path towards the main temple - a three-storey building with a flat roof and held by stone pillars. All the temples in Jalgare are situated inside a rectangular complex called the Sanctuarion. Although the construction of the temples was based on the same architectural design, striking differences could still be observed corresponding to their purposes. Despite the rigid appearance of the temples, the entire complex was still inviting to the citizens because of the green landscape and gardens that softens the hard concrete and marble stones.
On his way, Kel couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable with the wary stares directed at him by the temple visitors. He had the characteristic jet black hair and light brown skin common to most people in the kingdom. His cerulean blue eyes, though, were an exception. Not that there wasn’t anyone in Nevaeh with blue eyes; his was just different, more like glass. He always kept his hair neat and trimmed and sported shirts and jeans – a bit conservative compared to his peers.
Kel lowered his head and scaled up the marble steps as quickly and quietly as he could. Once inside the double doors, he let out a sigh of relief and climbed the stairs to his room, where he dozed off instantly the moment his back landed on his bed.
He must have been really tired that when he woke up, he felt relaxed and strange enough, he didn’t dream. Kel then went out of his room and strode towards the Archives. He was in a bit of a hurry but knew to respect the place he was heading to. It was the second largest structure in the Sanctuarion, with the largest collection of books in Jalgare. He entered the temple building and saw that the place was divided– the front tables were occupied by a few students and then there was Master Jireh, a calm expression on his face as he read a book in the corner table. Kel knew not to disturb the priest and thus, he proceeded to the section dedicated to civilization.
There was an enormous collection. Hundreds of books were on the database, so he narrowed the search based on language. He read once that modern languages were derived from ancient text. He opened his sketchpad once again and stared at the characters he wrote. He scanned the page and uploaded it on the computer in order to find a match.
He was stunned by his discovery so he quickly but quietly made his way out of the Archives to find Master Rohi. He trusted him with his dreams and often showed his drawings to him. Master Rohi was more like a father than a mentor for Kel. Eleven years ago, he found him outside the temple gates, wrapped in silk and placed in a basket, just a day after he was born. Without any leads on his identity and his parents, the priests gave him a name and a home.
Once he was in the clear, he bolted towards the back of the complex where the gardens were. He couldn’t wait to tell his master what he found out. It was indeed an old text but it was so complex that it was lost along with the people who used it. What intrigued the boy was that it was a language brought by the first settlers of Nevaeh.
He found the person he was looking for shortly. He had his back turned on him while he tended his drupes, berries, beans and herbs. The edges of his sleeveless emerald green robe were already smudged with dirt and Kel was guessing that his master’s white dress shirt and black silk pants were too.
Kel knew why his master frequented that place. It provided comfort and he believed that it was the plants’ doing. His master shared to him his knowledge on the healing abilities of the different plant species in the garden. He grew his plants in plots that were designed to surround the man made pond, where his floral plants floated. His garden was bordered with other species growing on trellises and plots.
“Feeling better now Kel?” the man asked without even looking behind his shoulder. Even though how light his footsteps were, his master always knew it was him.
“Yes. I’m sorry about earlier,” he said and his mentor, made a sound and waved his hand for him to come closer.
“I had another dream last night,” Kel continued, staring at the sketchbook in his hands then at the old man.
“Is it just a dream, Kel?” He lifted his startled eyes at the distant sound of his master’s voice. “Tell me, how do we know what is real from what is not?”
The question was left hanging as Kel tried to come up with a response. Of all the times for Master Rohi to be so philosophical and speaking in riddles, it had to be at that moment, he frowned.
“Things aren’t what they seem, it’s what they are. Perception, my boy, perception,” he continued and with that master left student pondering alone in the garden.
Master Rohi’s voice echoed loudly in his ears even after he was long gone. Kel was now sitting on the bench, his eyes focused on the ripples of water in the manmade pond as insects started to have their own dance in the liquid stage, while his mind was elsewhere.
Reclining on the bench, Kel started to relax his mind and clear his thoughts. The rushing of water from the nearby stream was slowly fading in the back of his mind, along with the rustling of the leaves and chirping of the birds. There was no sound, only silence. Then he felt light, weightless as a feather.
A light shown at a distance and he reached for it, floating. Suddenly, his neurons were assaulted by different sensations, bombarding his mind, body and soul until he could feel the three entities merge as one.
Then, there was peace and calm. He enjoyed reaching such state. But just as he was growing comfortable with where he was, he heard shouts of pain and anguish.
He opened his eyes. Destruction lay before him once again. No, no, no! This is not what I want!
Women carrying their children were running towards him, the fear clearly painted on their faces. Before he could even move out of their way, they passed right through him and the feeling was indescribable. He looked at his hand and it was see through. His breath quickened, panicked at the loss of his body but then calmed once again, remembering that he was still in meditation.
This is cool. He grinned at himself but snapped out of his reverie when another group of humans came rushing towards him. He saw one of the warriors bid his wife and baby farewell with a kiss each on their foreheads. He has wild, black hair that went past his broad shoulders and his toned chest. He was merely covered in a blue cloak and a lower garment that Kel had seen warriors of the Zelik tribe wore in the north of Ashur Kingdom.
The warrior charged back towards the battlefield, with his shield and sword. Kel followed him, barely keeping up with his speed. Then he felt the strange presence once again, the same presence he encountered in his dream making him stop. His eyes darted from left to right and he caught a movement, a mass of energy surging towards the warrior.
Kel wanted to warn the man, remembering the hopeful eyes of his wife and the baby. He opened his mouth but not a sound was heard. He forced himself to manifest his body but to no avail.
The unidentified mass is without form and invisible to the human eye; but Kel could see it moving. The foreign entity kept following the warrior. Kel looked at the direction the man was heading and saw the same monstrous beings in his previous dream wreaking havoc once again. Growling and baring their teeth, Kel cringed at the saliva that dripped to the ground.
In just a moment that Kel shifted his attention away from the warrior, the formless being fused with the man’s body and a surge of energy flowed through him. Strange blue markings appeared in his face and arms and his body grew larger in size. The power he received was so strong that it started leaking out of him in waves. His face was contorted, veins almost ripping out of his skin, from the change that was happening in his body. He was screaming but his words were unintelligible. Some of his comrades started helping him but they were just thrown away like dolls.
After completing his transformation, his face grew dark and cold; it lacked the warmth and love it had before. He was no longer the protector of his people, no longer the husband of his wife, and neither the father of his son nor the comrade of his fellow warriors. He was the enemy. He flung his sword and the fallen warriors didn’t know what hit them.
Kel helplessly watched as the man killed dozens of his friends and relatives. His eyes were dry but his heart was crying for the man. His young heart couldn’t bear to watch the massacre and the destruction that he closed his eyes and numbed his ears.
Kel embraced the darkness and the silence. Detaching himself from the world he was in and ventured deep in the recesses of his mind, just like he always did when he was sad. He was safe there. In the silence, he tended his broken heart until his strength drained and he completely surrendered himself to the calm.
Kel woke up under a grey sky. He groaned in frustration as he pushed himself off the dry ground. He wasn’t truly awake yet. He was in another dream, right in the middle of ruins. At least, there was no fire, formless beings, growling monsters and suffering humans.
He was about to walk away from the wall remains but he had this inkling that the he had been there before. It was like the place was calling out to his very being. He decided to look around; the geography and contour of the grounds were oddly familiar. There were only a few trees around the area but he could see the dead roots sticking out from the dry soil. He knew that it was once filled with trees and plants. He then noticed a circular patch of ground. It was like something was placed there before that prevented the growth of weeds.
He continued walking and stopped right in front of a walled structure when the image of the temple’s dining hall flashed in his mind. Kel ran around towards the other side of the wall and what he saw brought him to his knees.
He could never forget that time when he was six and he carved a small section of the dining room wall with his name right next to Masters Rohi’s and Ezer’s signatures. Shaking, he got up on his feet and ran towards the open fields shouting.
“Master Rafah! Master Ezer!”
Kel shook his head in denial as his body was rocked with sobs.
“No, no, no, NOOOO!”
This was the place where he grew up. This was place where the temples once stood.
This place was home.
Tears streamed down his red cheeks, pouring endlessly.
He cried for he would never see Master Ezer’s small chinky eyes that would disappear into crescents every time he smiles or his long braided hair that would move like a whip during training. He would never get to spar with his small lithe body that moved with grace and agility. He would never hear of his stories filled with so much wit and humour.
He cried for the gentle giant that was Master Rafah, who carried him in his broad shoulders or crushed him in his strong chest whenever he was lonely. He would never get to spend time with him inside the meditation hall or assist him in making medicines. He would never see that smile that always painted one in his or hear that laughter so contagious, his stomach would hurt.
He cried for the quiet Master Jireh, who spent time with him inside the Archives. He may look intimidating with his aristocratic features but his master is really kind and soft-spoken. He would never see those beautiful hazel eyes that spoke a million words to him. He would miss that small smile in his face even though he had only seen it once.
He cried for the man he called father, the person whom he shared his dreams. He would never see those pair of warm brown eyes looking back at him with such acceptance and understanding. He would never get to spend time with him in the garden where he would hear his words of wisdom. He would never see Master Rohi.
Kel cried endlessly for the family he lost until he had no more strength to cry.
The image of his family smiling back at him was the last thing he saw before slipping out of consciousness. It was almost dark when Kel came to. Dried tears streaked his cheeks and his eyes were red and swollen. He limply carried his weight, dragging his feet until he reached the temple gates. It stood proudly on the vast expanse. What once guarded the temples can now be likened to the gates that led to a graveyard.
He stopped, not knowing where to go or what to do. He was about to cry but no tears came. He was tired and hungry and he needed his strength if he wanted to survive.
But what’s my purpose in living? I don’t have a home…no family….to share my life with.
Depressing thoughts flooded his mind. He was sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss of misery, heading into the darkness and away from the light. He embraced the cold and the darkness, succumbing to the peace it offered. He wrapped his arms around his knees and rested his head between them. Inside the black void, there was nothing. No pain or sadness. He liked it there.
Is this the reality you wanted, Kel?
The voice was just above a whisper, gentle and kind.
Is this the reality you perceived?
He heard it again, this time a little louder.
Don’t give up my boy. Live!
Kel opened his eyes, the words of Master Rohi alive and vibrant within him. He could feel his strength and his warmth. He will live. His parents abandoned him, gave him up but Master Rohi and the other priests stood by him. That’s how important his life is.
He got to his feet and stepped out of the temple gates.
Kel never stopped walking under the scorching heat even though his legs were sore and his feet were aching with blisters. Days turned into weeks, closing to a month. There was no sign of another human or even animal in Jalgare or even the neighboring cities in the Kingdom of Nevaeh. He was barely living on water and what the hearth would provide. At least, there was still rain.
On his journey towards the capitol, he was contemplating whether he woke up on a different timeline or he entered another dream set on a different time.
How long was he in meditation? How long did he remain in the darkness? These questions kept running around his head and were left unanswered. Weeds had already been growing on the cracks of the wall ruins. The destruction couldn’t have happened over a few hours. But he knew that he couldn’t have been gone for even more than a year. His physical appearance told him so.
Sweat was dripping from his skin and he was dehydrated. But as he was about to collapse, he found hope ahead. Finally, Kell reached Nevaeh’s capital, Midgar. But upon stepping inside the city gates, he was left dumbfounded. The city before him wasn’t the Midgar he knew of. Midgar never was the exact replica of the unknown city he dreamed of.
It wasn’t his first time in the capital. Master Rafah brought him there once a month to buy spices and to check out the latest on technology. The city gates and marker even told him that he was in the right place.
Did I really skip time?
If he really did, there would only be one reason for it. He was taken to the future to prevent it from happening in the past.
But how can I go back? Am I not inside the dream world? Isn’t it normal for dreams to be this weird?
But he was anything but normal and his dreams were starting to make sense. While others forget most of what they see in their dreams, Kel remembered every single one of them. Every morning since he started talking, Kel would tell them about his dreams. They would eagerly listen to him but when the dreams became more frequent and detailed; he saw the worried glances of the priests.
They told him he was special. That he has a special gift. But he should know not to be controlled by it. Master Rafah taught him the art of meditation; from Master Jireh, it was control; martial arts from Master Ezer; and Master Rohi saw to it that he would learn to unlock his full potential.
However, he never finished his training.
He shook the painful and frightening memory of that day out of his thoughts. Dream or not, he was in the future and he need to tell them what he saw in order to prevent it from happening. He would find the answers. He was given this ability for a purpose. With that in mind, Kel trudged down the city streets, determined to bring back what he lost or what he will lose.
Unlike in his dream, the city was left untouched. There weren’t any signs of ruin or even struggle as opposed to its neighboring cities and his dreams. It was as if people who lived there just vanished all of a sudden. He was beginning to suspect the amphibious monsters for tearing down his home and the cities in Nevaeh. But Midgar was a mystery.
Kel strolled down the pavement, his curious eyes lighting up, amazed by the modernity of the structures. Then one establishment caught his eyes and he decided to enter it. Clothes were still either stacked or hanged neatly and they still look brand new. The style didn’t change that much but he was only looking for comfort so anything other than his current clothing would do.
Kel skipped to the nearest dressing room and saw the deep black rings around his red eyes. His hair was like a bird’s nest, sticking out in all directions. Despite taking every opportunity to bathe in the rain, he still felt dirty and sticky, now he could clearly see why. He lost some weight but thanks to the edible fruits, leaves and roots, at least he didn’t look pale and sickly. But if he were to save his people, he had to be equipped. He had to stay alive so that he could bring the news back to the temple, to Jalgare…to Nevaeh.
Kel looked around the shop and got himself a new pair of running shoes, a jacket and two changes of clothes. Desperately in need of a shower, he went out and entered one of the houses right across the street. He smiled feeling clean and refreshed once again the moment he stepped out of the bathroom.
He was tired and he wanted to rest. The queen sized bed was calling out to him but he fought the urge to sleep. There would be time for that later when it gets dark. He continued his journey within the city walls, keeping himself close to the buildings so that he couldn’t easily be spotted. He entered several shops and stuffed everything he found necessary inside a backpack. At least he would be ready if the invaders came back to Midgar. There must have been a reason why the city was spared and there was no doubt, they would return.
Standing just a little over five feet and not having those added muscles, Kel could never take on the invaders with just his physical strength. He needed strategy. Besides, if he would have it his way, he would never want to face those monsters again. After finding out what happened to his colony, he would find a way back in time.
The old court building, he found out, became the new library in Midgar. The emblem engraved on the façade was a head of a lion on top of the capital roman letter M enclosed in a circle. That alone proved that he was indeed in Midgar. The city always used the insignia of a lion, which symbolizes strength and power. Then he remembered that the unidentified city in his dream used a griffin for their emblem. The creature has the head of an eagle and the body of a lion – a chimera. The eagle is the ruler of the skies while the lion is the king of the beasts. By using such symbol, that city was claiming to be all powerful and mighty.
What could possibly cause its downfall? The boy mused but he was determined to find out.
For hours, the boy browsed news clippings. He was glad to have found stacks of news papers in one of the basement rooms of the city library. The computers were completely useless to him without stellar, nuclear or even electrical power. He used the catalogue to search for any recent post that would have explained the current situation of Midgar and possibly, Nevaeh. His eyes rounded at the year indicated on the paper. It was 2200 AT.
“I skipped more than 688 years?!” He exclaimed in disbelief, his hands were shaking as he stared at the material.
How long has the colony been like this after 2200?
After a few stunned moments, the boy finally calmed down and thus, continued with his research.
Nothing was out of the ordinary. There weren’t any altercations among Nevaeh and the other kingdoms that might have caused such devastation. The city, in fact, was flourishing and in an era of peace.
But one column intrigued him. The editor-in-chief of the journal he was reading was charged with libel. Someone with such stature and working for the government would not have committed that mistake. Kel took note of the back issues and went straight ahead to the controversial article dated eight months before the last journal issue.
Two words - black operations – had his mind reeling. The kingdoms weren’t at peace with each other.
“… they fought secret black ops wars to undermine each other behind the scenes while showing a united front to the public…”
The citizens of Nevaeh would have opposed and overthrow their ruler if it were proven true. Nevaehians were peace-loving people. They were scholars not soldiers.
The striking similarity between the two cities was starting to frighten him – the sophisticated architecture, the complex language and the creatures. He hoped that this hunch was wrong because otherwise, he would be fighting against his own.
Kel resumed his search, focusing on recent discoveries, unexplained events in laboratories, secret societies and everything that had to deal with the scientific community. He went back ten years until he found out what he was looking for. A group of seven scientists went missing mysteriously over a span of three months. It was odd that no one followed up on that one report. Moving a few months ahead, the writer of said article also vanished.
He took note of the names of the missing persons and tore the articles from the journals. Moving around the basement would have been impossible if not for the torch light, cellular batteries and blueprints he found. Scaling up the massive flight of stairs, Kel would stop and catch his breath from time to time, until he reached the fifth floor and skipped to the third door.
He was thinking that the government library should have kept information about them here in the civil registry section. Pulling and pushing card boxes, Kel flipped through the card catalogue and found the codes to the personal files of the missing scientists: a female biochemist, a female bioinformatics analyst, a neurosurgeon doctor, two molecular biologists and two engineers. He too searched the data sheets of the two writers.
The boy then spread the documents on the table and tried to find a link. He met a dead end with the scientists but found out that the missing writer and the editor-in-chief worked for the government news journal. He placed the two data sheets side by side and noticed that they could be brothers based on striking resemblances – a square jaw, bridged nose and a prominent forehead.
“They even have cleft chins,” he chuckled but something seem suspicious about the two. He pulled one photo close to his face and realized that the editor-in-chief, Dmitri, had a scar and not a cleft chin. His eyes then focused to Carr’s image.
“You got to be kidding me!”
The two writers were one and the same. He looked at the place of birth and dates of employment. Carr disappeared just after a year when he started working while Dmitri appeared nine years after. Kel then focused on the articles they wrote.
Light was slowly disappearing outside and his torch light wouldn’t suffice. So he rummaged his bag for two more and set them on the table. The moment he moved the articles near the light source, some words started glowing. One of the torches was actually giving out UV light.
And the real message of the editor-in-chief’s article read:
The Human sphere that's what it was called, our spiralling arm of the galaxy, before they came. We could have made it great but we ruined it, just like we ruined Terra, carving out our own little empires, looking to satisfy petty material wants and needs and never seeing the bigger picture of humanity as a whole. Maybe that's why they got their foothold, at the center of the sphere no less. They, they are or were, I can’t be sure now, the combined army of an Evolved Intelligence, a malevolent mind with no physical form. Apparently they are were different races conquered by the E.I. and deemed too primitive, violent or stupid to assist it in its goal of figuring out how to transcend reality, so they were charged with slaughtering races like us and rounding up the survivors to toil in their slave-colleges studying to solve the problem.
I look at the desperate situation I find myself in and can’t help but laugh; we could have contained them at the start had we only put our differences aside. But no, our governments couldn't have one another making any gains and coming out stronger at the end of the war instead they fought secret black ops wars to undermine each other behind the scenes while showing a united front to the public. I can’t say how long I've been running or how long I've been fighting; time is something that has little meaning to me now, I can’t even tell if what I remember is my past or if it's my future. I don’t even know what made me think we could run in the first place, it seems so obvious now, if a being was on the verge of transcending reality, what was there to stop it transcending time and space?
After he finished reading the hidden message, goose bumps erupted on his skin and he could feel the hairs at the back of his neck standing. Excitement pumped in his veins but at the same time, he was terrified with the knowledge he just acquired.
“Transcending time and space,” the words rolled out of his tongue smoothly and it triggered something within him. “Am I…Is that what I have been doing all this time?” He was thrilled with the idea, his curious sapphire blue eyes mirroring the emotions exploding within him. Finally, everything that happened or was happening to him made sense. Master Rohi's parting words made sense.
But it was early for a celebration. The enemies were still out there. It was a desperate attempt on the part of the writer to inform the public but the government shut him up.
He then went back to the articles about the missing scientists and tried to connect the research studies they were working on before they disappeared.
“A novel compound that has invisible properties, maximizing the brain’s potential, a super computer, evolution of new forms of li-fe…” his voice trailed as his mind pulled back images of the invisible entity that took over the mind and body of the warrior.
“It can’t be,” he gasped, his voice trembling, “Evolved Intelligence.”
The moment he uttered those words a strong force knocked him from behind, his waist hitting the table before he dropped on his knees. He was in a daze because of the impact and he couldn’t see clearly against the dark. There was only so much three torches could do. He raised his hands and gripped the table, using his strength to pull his weight up. He struggled to stand on his feet but he was thrown in the air, the unseen force driving him towards the farthest wall.
He whimpered in pain as he slammed on to the solid surface. He shook his head to rid out the dizziness. Kel tried assessing the situation he was in and not give in to fear.
A heavy weight was still on him, meaning whatever it was it had him pinned against the wall. But after what he had experienced and read, he need not guess.
Who is this human? Everyone should have been held captive.
Despite his current predicament, Kel heard the voice of the E.I. He was surprised that the E.I. speaks in his language and its voice was just like that of a female human, not auto-tuned, clear and not hoarse.
What is he doing here? He is too young to be one of the renegades.
Kel listened intently, his façade not giving out what he was doing. The E.I. doesn’t have any clue that he could hear it or read its thought, he wasn’t sure which of the two he was doing but he was glad that at least he had some leverage. And the thought that there are other humans out there alive and fighting gave him courage.
I should bring him back to Lutgard.
With that said, he felt the E.I. enter his body. If he resisted, he would die. If he let it in, he would be taken to Lutgard where he will either die or be held captive. At least, he could prolong his life with the latter. Kel then moved back to his hiding place and let the E.I. reside in his body. The being was still clueless that he had been conscious all the time.
It entered with a fluid movement. There was no pain. And then in an instant, Kel had access to the information he was looking for. His mind opened as it downloaded memories from the E.I.
Greed and the hunger for immense power drove the leaders of Nevaeh to create the ultimate weapons of destruction. The seven missing scientists were the pioneers of the research to create an invisible army with human intelligence. They were dispatched to another colony where the first lab was set-up. They called the place, Lutgard, Nevaeh’s center of defense. In 2200, the people of Midgar moved to the new colony and built the fortified city. The city under the red heavens flourished and amassed great wealth. They claimed to be untouchable but Kel knew that they would be proven wrong the moment creation turned against creators.
Still oblivious of Kel digging into its mind, the E.I. carried on with its task, moving in, out and around buildings, doing a full sweep of the place. By the time they reached the light single carrier, Kel had already found the answers he had been looking for. But he held back on his escape.
The carrier moved in a blurring fast speed and reached the colony in less than a day. Upon reaching the space dock, they or he was surrounded by the alien soldiers, all hideous in appearance. Loud and ferocious growls welcomed him the moment he stepped out. Fortunately, the E.I. was still in Kel’s body or he’d be dead meat already. It sent out an order and the creatures bowed their heads in submission. Strangely, he heard a different language but he was able to understand it nonetheless.
He remained silent as the E.I. navigated within the confines of the port, the only entrance and exit in Lutgard. The colony was protected by an electrical force field which he saw upon landing. A gravity-defying, open-roofed cab waited for them just outside. The E.I. punched in the location and the vehicle moved even without a driver. Traffic was non-existent, mainly because the movement of the vehicles were controlled. Black mega-structures towered above him and were heavily guarded. Laser beams were like beacons as they scanned every corner of the city from the top of several towers. Needless to say, the fortress was highly organized and peaceful.
The cab stopped in front of a dome-structure, the doors opening automatically. He just slipped out of the vehicle and entered the building where he encountered other alien species who bowed their heads in respect. Although the recruited aliens were barbaric in nature, they appear to be disciplined and civilized. He couldn’t believe he was inside the enemy’s barracks.
The E.I. ignored mostly everyone in the building and everyone seemed to recognize it inside him. They entered a lift and the E.I. punched a character. Kel could tell that he was nearing judgment and he had to find a way to escape. What would be the use of the information he gathered if he wounds up dead or held captive.
The double metal doors on the fifth floor slid open and several guards ushered him through the corridors. They left shortly upon reaching the very end of the hall. The E.I. pushed open the metal door and led him inside the dimly-lit court. It was eerily silent and vacant but he knew the E.I. Council were there. He could feel their presence.
“I found him inside the central library of Midgar.” The E.I. inside his body explained. They were speaking in their language, but just like earlier, Kel understood the words.
“Manaia, you can move out of his body now.” One of the unseen beings ordered and he felt Manaia slip away from his mind and body.
“Oh no you don’t,” Kel asserted, making his presence known that led the court into an uproar.
“He was conscious all this time!”
“The boy speaks our language!”
Kel grinned, he couldn’t be any prouder of himself. His masters would have been proud. He then focused on the goal at hand.
“Let me go!” Manaia hissed as it struggled within Kel’s mind. He could feel it trying to turn his body against him. But Kel was sneaky. He had been in control the whole time. “Human, let me go!”
“No, you stay inside. This is my mind. I am the boss here,” Kel emphasized, restraining it by adding more barriers inside his head thus keeping Manaia his captive.
Tension rose within the court and he could feel the intensity of their life forces. No doubt they would kill him after his stunt.
“Those cerulean blue orbs!”
“That tribe has been annihilated a long time ago! What is the meaning of this Feros? ”
“Don’t accuse me of not doing my job!”
While the Council erupted in arguments, Kel used the distraction to set his plan into motion. He had been preparing his mind to extract himself from there. It would have been nice if he had more practice since his previous attempts only led him farther and farther away from his goal. But it was worth taking another shot.
Fortunately for him, Manaia used its energy to move his body around, saving his. With one nudge, he pushed Manaia out of his body. And then released the energy he contained.
“ENOUGH! Seize the human!”
He could feel every fibre of his being. His heart was thumping hard in his chest, his veins pulsing with blood and all nerve endings creating synaptic impulses.
The E.I had surrounded him with an immense amount of pressure as they closed in on him.
He could hear their menacing growls and hisses. Kel pushed forth the last wave of energy he had and then darkness engulfed him.
Kel felt warm and weightless as he drifted inside the void. He opened his eyes and saw a bright light ahead of him.
WORD COUNT: 8043 (w/quote); 7713 (w/o quote)
IMAGES USED: 2, 3, 4, 11, 15
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I tried. I just hope what I have written is worth reading. Thanks in advance to those who would spare some of their precious time to read my story.
About the name:
I coined ‘Kel’ from Miyka’el. It is the Hebrew name of the first archangel of God. However, I would have a hard time typing the full name and I want something that would be easily remembered. I hoped that the shortened form would have a meaning and look what I found:
Kel /ˈkɛl/ is a Hungarian verb which means “rise”; from Proto-Ugric *kälä- (“to rise, stand up”)
I searched in the Hebrew dictionary and I got 'Kelaya' which means "dry grain"
And then, I found 'Kel Dors' but yeah, my Kel is human xD
So much from me >.<
Last edited by dream_keeper88; 01-18-2012 at 11:24 AM.
MY CLAIMED CHARACTER
Credits to Airiseu of Clairism Poster Request Shop
Credits to SmilingAngel for my first signature banner :)
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
- Harriet Tubman
Alright, here we go.
The Human sphere that's what it was called, our spiraling arm of the galaxy, before they came. We could have made it great but we ruined it, just like we ruined Terra, carving out our own little empires, looking to satisfy petty material wants and needs and never seeing the bigger picture of humanity as a whole. Maybe that's why they got their foothold, at the center of the sphere no less. They, they are or were, I cant be sure now, the combined army of an Evolved Intelligence, a malevolent mind with no physical form. Apparently they are were different races conquered by the E.I. and deemed too primitive, violent or stupid to assist it in its goal of figuring out how to transcend reality, so they were charged with slaughtering races like us and rounding up the survivors to toil in their slave-colleges studying to solve the problem.
I look at the desperate situation I find myself in and cant help but laugh; we could have contained them at the start had we only put our differences aside. But no, our governments couldn't have one another making any gains and coming out stronger at the end of the war instead they fought secret black ops wars to undermine each other behind the scenes while showing a united front to the public. I cant say how long I've been running or how long I've been fighting; time is something that has little meaning to me now, I cant even tell if what I remember is my past or if it's my future. I don’t even know what made me think we could run in the first place, it seems so obvious now, if a being was on the verge of transcending reality, what was there to stop it transcending time and space?
The truth scares me. Likes always, I shake the feeling off, running away again.
The sharp pain in my side slowly becomes a burning. My body begins to grow numb. My vision blurs as I force myself to look up. The last ship makes it a few yards off the ground. It houses the final few hundred refugees to escape humankind’s second home.
I watch as the craft carries her away from me.
I wish I would notice how the rain hit the hull, reflecting the red sunset. The reflections drench my world in a shimmering crimson layer. Such a contrast to the silver of the space craft, which reflects only the purest white rays off it’s smooth right wing . . .
Instead, my eyes roll and fall into the sight of my own reflection in a newly formed puddle.
My blue eyes shine back at me, stark against the red sky. They widen with the effort of pushing back my emotions. Yet even still, they show the dull numbness after all these years of exhaustion and fear.
A bright flash overtakes my vision. I know it won’t be for long. Where would it send me this time? Is it my broken machine, or the will of the mind?
Before me, a field of bright green grasses sprawl out as far as the eye can see. A path weaves through the plains, leading to a large structure. An elaborately arched gateway stands strong for the first time I’ve seen in years, unmoved by time, out in the middle of nowhere. Yet, even in that time or perhaps this time that I’m now back in, it reeked with age and wear. At one point the great archway protected the people of my country from the people of hers. Now it joined two children from each land, it had joined her and I.
The boy runs through the field. The boy that had once been me.
His blond hair whips around his oddly angular face. I had been twelve, just beginning my change into a man. Just a boy becoming a poor man from a poor family that just scrapped by ever since the war began. The war had torn my family to shreds, yet I chose to push back the memory of the hill.
He wears only an old pair of jeans, ripped like shorts at the knees. The boy bounces with excitement as he bounds towards the structure. At one point it had been a boundary between the two nations but at that moment in time it had become a meeting place.
As a twelve year old boy, I saw her waiting there for me, her white dress and long brown hair swaying in the wind. Her green eyes gleamed under the shadows cast by the arch she stood under. She smiled and waved.
It hits me that it’s not me she’s smiling at, it’s him. Her eyes fall on the boy, not a broken soldier in the distance. That whisper of a past life means more to her than I do.
They talked for hours until the sun began to set, everyday for three years. Watching the years pass by so fast like a blur, I can still make out her face. Those knowing eyes watching, always watching, soon searching out me before turning to him.
Until one day came where the green trees became dead and bare. The grass dried and rotted. The great archway seemed to reflect the somber air, its grey stone cold and unmoving. She stood for the last time under the shadow of the main arch and looked at me straight in the eye, not at some figure of a man in the distance.
Today, her eyes stay distant and focus back on his.
She wore a black dress on the day she said goodbye.
It hits him hard, I know that better than anyone else . . . Perhaps even more than he knows. I know how many years of suffering that boy will endure. I know the pain and hate to come.
I watched as she turned away from me. I thought it had something to do with the war, that somehow it had separated us. I was going to end it, I was going to be the end.
He joins the army at fifteen. He goes to fight the terrors that struck this land, the ones that stole his home and left his family broken and poor. He fights day in and day out in the hope of seeing her again.
There was never a point in human history where humankind didn’t find something to rebel about. There was never a time where there was not a conspiracy to uncover. People have a compulsive need to hate and lie to each other. My reasons for rebelling, they were shameful. I was scared. I ran away.
Through time I traveled, and travel even now, trying to figure out a way to prevent this all from happening. That’s the front - the lie - I put up. In reality, I was trying to find a place to hide.
My heart was broken.
Now the device that I once told to take me places in time, takes me there on it’s own free will.
Broken, just like this world.
I feel my knees hit the asphalt of the runway. I splash into the puddle, a bright color spraying around me. I can hear the propellers of airplanes flying in the distance, little black specks against the red sky.
Behind me, green pines trees sway from the wind of the propellers. I wish I would notice how they look like dark flames, flickering against the sky. . .
My world is ending.
Yet all I can feel, is this soft, burning, numbness.
It pulls me away again. I’m watching as I was moved from the regular armed forces to the black ops. I was seventeen, young, and impressionable.
The boy has grown strong, built. He holds a façade of strength, no one can guess that he still hasn’t gotten over the girl and her beautiful green eyes. No one can guess that on the inside he aches, that when he’s alone all he thinks about is her.
His new enemy is not the ones that destroyed his home. His new enemy is the home of the girl who said goodbye.
I thought I knew the reason she said goodbye, she must have known we were killing her people. And then . . . I was helping them?
The teenage boy can’t handle it. Every day, every mission, destroys him. It brings him to his knees.
His comrades don’t understand as he paces back and forth with worry before they head off. They don’t understand when he comes back, staggering, getting sick in their sink. They don’t understand his nightmares, the nightmares that he finds himself forced to attack a city that she lives in. Nightmares, where he is forced to kill her.
They don’t understand him at all. They are no replacement for his family. Not his mother, his deceased father, nor the girl that lives somewhere behind enemy lines.
He lives in their country, another silly front. Another silly lie. We were supposedly soldiers giving aide to their country. We were despicable.
He sees her around every street corner, at every stop, in every crowd. I missed her.
I couldn’t do that to her. He can’t. Not anymore.
He searches for the girl, now young woman. It becomes his purpose, his reason to keep living, to keep fighting, and yet it was just another way I could run away. It was just another lie to make the pain go away for just a little while.
He finds her and once again it begins, their meetings. Only now, it means so much more. At least, for him it does. Her eyes rest on me again, only for a moment, before turning back to him. But who am I? Compared to that boy who fought for her, I am no one. Yet her eyes always connect to mine first, only now there is something dark about it.
She must know. Of course she does, I saw to that early on.
He knows, he knows she is distracted. Is it the war? Or does he not mean what she means to him. He grows distant, afraid that if a four lettered word is spoken, the end will come.
The boy keeps up with his duties as a soldier and as the young woman’s lover. Terrified, I was always so afraid of both of those worlds.
He can’t keep living two lives. Upon that realization I had those years before, they came to me. The time-travelers. They offered me, as they offer him, a way to stop the internal war. By fighting with them, he can be the end that he wishes for. I could destroy those torments. He can make it safe to be with the girl. The nightmares will end.
Then I lived neither of those lives. He stops living the cruel life as a soldier and the meaningful life as hers. There had been too much pressure, the traveling became an escape. I was scared, and I ran away.
It stings, the burning becoming intense. I grip my side, gasping for air.
Where is she?
Shouldn’t she be here to save me? Just like the time a stood with her on a hill?
Tears rolled down my cheeks. She is gone. She will live a life separate to me, like I had from her. My throat burns, my chest aching far more than my side. I will never see her again this time.
My eyes close for a second, momentarily blacking out. I don’t feel my forehead knock against the runway. Blood streams down my face. Colors dance across my vision, dizziness setting in.
I watched as she kneeled down next to a small boy. She smiled and patted the blond boy’s head. “Your father was a hero.”
I gasp, the orange light hitting me. In a second the orange setting sun disappeared once more.
I had met her again in the past. I broke a rule of the organization and I told her everything. I told her on the day she wore her black dress, I told her, so that she would tell me goodbye.
The man thinks that by telling her the truth, she will run away from him, as he had. Yet, when he comes once more in his own time, she comes right back to him.
She said that she knew he would return.
They marry under the arch. The ceremony stays short and held in secret. No one comes, there is nothing left of their families but themselves. Our vows were exchanged in whispers that turned into moans of satisfaction as the night wore on.
I shouted as pain shoots through me in waves, tears streaming down my face.
A single man silhouetted against a red sky and burning white sun, she would think it‘s romantic if I could have the chance to tell her. She can see beauty in everything.
I wish I could see the beauty of the end.
Yet all I can see is the past.
They stripped away our world, our tiny sphere of humanity. Our hope died. Our false earth fell beneath out feet. The mind had a plan for us, every single one. Even now I wonder if all this that I have gone through has been part of the mind’s plan.
I showed her which ship to board and made her run away.
The warm sticky liquid slips through my fingers. Blood spills out of me, becoming diluted by the puddle spreading around me.
The boy, eight, stands and watches as the sunset shoots across the sky. It sears the sky like a wound over the suburbia he calls home.
That day marked the beginning of the end.
Just like the sunset, a riff tears through the village. The ground quakes, and he falls to his knees.
The reddening sky reflects the blood that is shed as the creatures burst up through the man-made earth and destroy his home.
On my knees I cried, she stood beside me, crying softly.
Anger flares inside me, my fists pounding the asphalt. Why? Just seconds and I would have made it onto the ship with her!
Just seconds . . .
I had run with her, we would be free on this new planet. Free, just as the humans who created our sphere had thought as they fled the earth.
We came through the port where the last of the space crafts would take off. Just as we made it to the runway, just mere feet before the craft the monsters shot through the glass of the port behind us. We were showered with glass. Instead of fighting, I kept running with her.
I pushed her aboard, and turned to face the beast.
I saw myself in it’s eyes. This creature had once gone through the same thing. The same thing on some other planet far away . . . That creature could have been me. That creature could have been her.
I hesitated before taking it’s life, just long enough for it’s claw to pierce my side.
The blood seeps through, draining me of my life. Only now do my emotions flare out.
“Why!” I cry, screaming at this damn world. “Why?”
I remember watching the sky as a boy, never did I dream of the end. Never did I dream of such a girl that would run to me as I ran and hid from the world.
She gave me everything and I gave her a new chance at life.
She would tell the boy that I was a hero.
Would he stand alone like me? Alone, in a vast world, ending in a red glow? Will he die while trying to run and hide away? Or could he rise to find he could see? Was he me? Or my son?
Was she even real?
My thoughts fall away from me as I try to make sense of her eyes. Her eyes, bright green, were those worth fighting for?
My vision took me too her face, my eyes closing for a final time. My strength gone, I feel defeated as my tears rain around me.
I want to move forward or perhaps backwards in time to tell me or my son, to find the answer for me.
The beating of my heart, faint, grows still. There is less pain now that I can no longer take those horrid breaths.
Perhaps he or I can find the answer by watching the end upon a hill with a girl named Hope.
I was aiming for a surreal atmosphere which I've never purposely tried before. I like it^^ ...though I don't know if the meaning got across. That's always what I worry about with my stories because I already know what it means and so I can't know if it I made it understandable to anyone else until others read it XD Well, I hope so because I'm really proud of this one!
Used: 3, 8, 14, 15
Honestly, I think the tone of the story feels too spaztastic. The mood is all over the damn place. I feel like I can spot each and every separate time I sat down to work on it. Woe is me, etc.
Oh, yay. I broke past the character limit. Story is continued on a second post.
And I guess I should add which images I used. It should be 1, 2, 4, and 7. Unless I forgot how to count, which is possible.
The Human sphere that's what it was called, our spiraling arm of the galaxy, before they came. We could have made it great but we ruined it, just like we ruined Terra, carving out our own little empires, looking to satisfy petty material wants and needs and never seeing the bigger picture of humanity as a whole. Maybe that's why they got their foothold, at the center of the sphere no less. They, they are or were, I can’t be sure now, the combined army of an Evolved Intelligence, a malevolent mind with no physical form. Apparently they are were different races conquered by the E.I. and deemed too primitive, violent or stupid to assist it in its goal of figuring out how to transcend reality, so they were charged with slaughtering races like us and rounding up the survivors to toil in their slave-colleges studying to solve the problem.
I look at the desperate situation I find myself in and can’t help but laugh; we could have contained them at the start had we only put our differences aside. But no, our governments couldn't have one another making any gains and coming out stronger at the end of the war instead they fought secret black ops wars to undermine each other behind the scenes while showing a united front to the public. I can’t say how long I've been running or how long I've been fighting; time is something that has little meaning to me now, I can’t even tell if what I remember is my past or if it's my future. I don’t even know what made me think we could run in the first place, it seems so obvious now, if a being was on the verge of transcending reality, what was there to stop it transcending time and space?
Of course, that was then, and this is now. Or were they both now? Different nows? Oh, all the possibilities when the future becomes the beginning and the past becomes a means to an end. It always made me laugh that humanity had come just as close to solving “the problem” as the E.I. has. Not that anyone really knew about that. Not that it really mattered. It made it hard to keep stomping along when no matter how hard you tried and what you did, humanity repeatedly ended up flushing itself down the shitter by squabbling over shiny things while the galaxy erupted around it. Then it turns around and points its collective finger at someone else. Humanity is funny like that. Sometimes I just wanted to bust out the marshmallows and have a roast as the house burned down around me. I sighed and rose from my chair.
I couldn’t see the sun from the window of my office. One whole wall was a flawless sheet of crystal clear glass. It might’ve been another blank, cream-colored wall for all the good it did me. If I walked up to the window and looked straight up I could see almost a sliver of sky. The corporate offices of AlasTech were in a building that was downright petite compared to the others that greedily reached for the stars around it.
If I looked down I couldn’t see the street below, but that didn’t matter. I already knew what was happening down there. I turned away from the window and returned to my desk, slipping into the comfortably cushioned chair behind it. Another side of the room was taken up by a screen that spanned the entirety of the wall. It showed the news. I didn’t need the sound on to tell what the protesters were howling about. Probably because of the signs they were waving and the fact that they were standing in front of my building.
I sighed and made a gesture, and the news turned off and the screen started pretending to be a wall. No matter how many cycles I’d completed humanity was always disappointing in the same ways. When they saw the end coming they couldn’t help but find something to blame it on, even if it didn’t make a bit of sense. I found myself questioning, once again, whether or not humanity was even worth it anymore, whether there was any point in putting myself through this shit again.
There was a knock at my office door.
“Come in,” I said.
My little wisp of a secretary slipped past the door, a tablet under her arm, and hurried to my desk.
“Ma’am,” she said, placing the tablet on the desk in front of my, “I have here the renewal of our contract with Hollander Industries for production of the Mobius battleships. All it needs is your signature.”
I picked up my stylus and signed the document. Matty swiped a finger along the tablet.
“And here is the revised contract with Sulston for the manufacture of the P-83 Phased Pulse Rifles,” she said.
I signed that too.
“Thank you, Ma’am. Admiral Carravette called earlier. He said that something had come up, and he wanted to know if he could push the meeting with you about the prototype Atlas dreadnoughts with you up to the twenty-first at three.”
“Hmmmm, that’s fine. Inform the Admiral that that’ll be fine.
“Yes, Ma’am,” she said, gathering the tablet under her arm again. “The last matter I have for you is that the lawsuit filed by Gillian Lloyd has been thrown out, so that bit of business is over with.”
“Ha! I doubt it. Now people will be screaming about how they finally have proof that the government is sheltering us from this ridiculousness.”
“As you say, Ma’am. Will you be heading home soon?”
“Yes,” I lied, “I’ll be heading home in a few—”
Matty jumped as something smashed into the window behind me. I looked over my shoulder to find two black smudges on the window.
“—minutes,” I finished. “Well, I guess someone found my office.” The armored glass would’ve stood up to ballistic missiles, let alone a couple of rifle rounds.
“Ma’am, I’ll arrange for a shuttle to take you home.”
“No, no, that’s fine Matty. There’s no need for any of that.”
“But Ma’am,” she said, gesturing to the window. “And then there’s the matter of the protesters.”
“No shuttle,” I said. “I’ll be fine, Matty. I have my . . . ways,” I finished with a small smile.
“If you insist, Ma’am.”
“You’ll be heading home soon, too, Matty?”
“Yes, Ma’am. In just a bit. I have a few minor matters to take care of, and then I’ll be off. I’ll be taking a shuttle, of course. I’m nowhere near as tough as you are.”
* * *
I made my way to the elevator, and down into the lobby. I passed through the front doors. The throng of guards protecting the entrance looked around in confusion as the doors swung shut behind me. I walked around the barricades and through the growing crowd of protesters without a single one noting my presence.
As I left the sounds of voices raised in righteous indignance behind me, I made my way deeper into the city. Eden had once been an Earth-like world. Eden was the closest that man had ever come to finding a second Terra. There was almost always difficulties adapting to the various planets that were capable of supporting Terran life, but Eden was different. Things change though. With Earth uninhabitable, Eden had become the center of all things human. Industry had taken over. The planet had been turned into one giant city. All the indigenous life had been relegated to living in zoos and the occasional wildlife preserve.
I wound my way through the streets, walking for hours. Eventually, I passed out of the commercial district and into the entertainment district. Not a lot of walking around got done in the commercial district, but here the streets narrowed and crowds thickened. The area was splashed with fluorescent yellows and pinks and neon lights dyed the world in alarming colors. Signs, billboards, and screens advertised casinos, restaurants, hotels, brothels catering to various fetishes. Mixed in amongst the crowds was even the occasional Rigellian.
The Rigellians were a bit of a sob story, really. The aliens were big, lamprey-faced bipeds. Frankly, they’re a lot more hideous than they sound. The fact that they looked pretty damned similar to Terrans probably made it worse. Although, it couldn’t have made it any worse that it already was.
Rigellians were the E.I.’s standard shock-troops. Terrans are, as a whole, individualistic, smart, active, and innovative; Rigellians were mostly the opposite of all those things. They could serve no purpose in slave-colleges that the E.I. liked to stick Terrans into. Also unlike Terrans, they bred well in test-tubes and captivity.
There were plenty of news reels that showed brainwashed Rigellians cutting down Terran soldiers and capturing terrified colonists. Humanity has never been very forgiving or rational when scared. Lynch mobs weren’t uncommon, and though Rigellians are, by far, physically stronger than Terrans, technology leveled that playing field. I had killed a fair few of them myself, sometimes indirectly and sometimes not. More than once, I watched as what had been their homeworld crumpled and shattered on my orders. I couldn’t help but feel bad for the ugly bastards.
I stopped at a small restaurant that was little more than a food stand. All in all, it was best to get down to business with a full stomach. The food was cheap, but it was pretty tasty. Looking at the passing faces as I ate was rather depressing. Despair had fully set in. People were just going through the moves. Everyone seemed to think that they were as good as dead already. Humanity will always rally eventually, but when they do, it’s inevitably too late. What you get in a loosing battle that lasts decades and ratcheting levels of fear, depression, and despair. The rioting and violence had mostly settled down. It was kind of like the last stages of a terminal disease.
As evening passed into twilight I cast my gaze upwards to the sky. You do this long enough and things start getting predictable. It didn’t start long after I finished my meal. It was impossible to see much of the stars anywhere on this world. What was possible to see, however, was the flash of ship-to-ship weapons as they detonated. Here and there, an individual inside that ever moving crowd would stop moving, staring up at the searing flashes of light. The number of people stopping to watch grew slowly. It was silent except for the voice of an occasional, inquisitive child.
It was about then that the sirens started up. The quiet suddenly turned into shrieking chaos as people ran for the underground shelters that had been prepared long in advance of this inevitable moment. It was funny, in a grim sort of way. I watched as the crowd trampled anyone who wouldn’t get out of their way. Even though they clung so hard to life, they were all running to their deaths. The shelters would self-destruct when the Rigellians compromised them. That wasn’t something that you told your average civilian though.
I couldn’t say how many times I had done it already, but I did it again. I sat there as everything went to hell around me and pondered whether I had the right to go through with it. I thought of Matty and the billions and billions of others who’ve lived their lives and made their choices. Did I really have the right to take that from them? Perhaps humanity’s time in the sun is over. Perhaps inevitably, humanity will die under the E.I. How many countless billions of lives have I rendered meaningless by continuing this fight? I wondered if Silas had arrived at his answer. Maybe that’s why he killed himself.
Too many questions. Too much doubt. Sitting here while people screamed, ran, and trampled each other and thinking about it wasn’t going to help any more now than it did the last time. It was almost time, and the timing was important. I could’ve traveled from anywhere, really, but some places, some hotspots, are more efficient and quieter than other. No need to attract undue attention.
I rose from my seat and kept walking. There wasn’t much point in paying for my meal, seeing as how the restaurant’s staff and taken off when the sirens kicked in. I moved against the crowd. A woman nearby was frantically screaming someone’s name. Gradually, the crowd began to thin, but there were stragglers. There are always stragglers.
A low howl of engines, rising in volume as the source grew closer, came echoing through the confines of the district. I looked up as the craft passed overhead, engines shrieking loud enough to rattle windows and shake the ground. E.I. designed ships were little more than armored boxes that could fly and were armed. The E.I. was also a believer in quantity over quality. No doubt that hundreds of thousands of craft had been launched planetside. Automated city defenses would destroy thousands, but many thousands of more would make it through.
Occupying a planet was difficult work. One of the general rules of intergalactic conquest was that such things should be avoided if possible. Colonies are a rather simple matter, but on core worlds with populations in the billions, subjugating the entire popular was generally an exercise in frustration, attrition, and futility unless you were willing to turn the planet into a ball of glass. There were all kind of intergalactic accords in place to prevent planets from being bombarded like that, but they often went ignored.
For the E.I., this wasn’t an option if it wanted all those lovely human minds. It’s forces would land on the planet, gather up Terrans, and then send them up to ships where they were put in suspended animation and shipped to where they were needed. All of this happened while the planetary forces were fought to an eventual standstill.
The E.I. fleets were more or less self-sufficient. They had breeding ships where armies of Rigellians could be raised in weeks. The Rigellians were then programmed, outfitted, and then shipped down to the planet until all the resistance was gone. After that, it was just a scavenger hunt for Terrans. I hung around long enough to see it a couple of times. Sometimes I needed to see it, to be reminded of how things go down, of what the future holds for humanity if the E.I. isn’t destroyed.
I was close to the fracture now. It was up ahead inside a movie theater that had a small, decorative glass dome on top. Above the entrance was a large screen playing a trailer for some umpteenth sequel of some horror movie. Apparently, it featured large-chested teenage girls screaming and sharp objects. I walked inside the theater and found the entrance littered with that millennia old, movie-goer favorite: popcorn, along with crushed cups among pools of soda soaking into the tacky, red carpet, and scattered candies.
After a cursory glance around the place, I made a beeline for the men’s restroom. Such things stopped being embarrassing more than ten thousand years ago. In fact, it was hard to be embarrassed about much of anything after the first hundred or so. Four stalls lined the wall to my right. What I was looking for was in the second closest to the far wall. I stepped into the stall and locked the door behind me. I was fifteen minutes early, and since all my brooding had been taking care of for the moment, I waiting peacefully for the time to pass.
* * *
In an instant, I was at the bottom of a gently sloping hill. At the top was a ruined church with a small graveyard. I took in a long, deep breath and let it out slowly. It had literally been thousands of years since I had taken a breath of clean, fresh air. I did it again. It’s the little things in life.
I pulled my purse out of thin air and slid my makeup kit out of an inner pocket before disappearing the purse again. I flipped open the kit and looked at myself in the mirror. Staring back at me was a matronly, middle-aged woman. Her face was all angles and points with thin lips and a small mouth. It certainly wasn’t a pretty face, but it wasn’t wholly unattractive. What it was was a face that commanded attention and respect. It was the perfect face for a businesswoman. She had sharp grey eyes and long, dark hair that was run through with a few streaks of grey. It needed to change.
First up was the face. I cleared the wrinkles and softened the jawline. I stared at myself in the mirror some more, smiling slightly. I moved up the cheekbones a tad and softened their lines a bit too. I made my mouth larger and my lips fuller, my complexion lighter, and my nose slightly upturned and just barely too big. I shortened my hair to a neat bob that stopped just above my shoulders, removed the grey, and ran through a couple of more exotic colors before stopping on a light strawberry-blonde. I added a light dusting of freckles across my nose and cheekbone.
With my face finished, I shook out the mirror until it was full-sized and stood it on the ground. I took a couple of steps back and examined myself in the mirror. I shortened myself a little, added a bit more curve to my hips, and made my bust a little smaller. For my clothes, I took away my businesslike skirt and top, and I replaced them with comfortably worn, form-fitting jeans and an Aerosmith shirt that had a cat with a lit bundle of dynamite in its mouth on it.
I gave a little bounce, tilted my head cutely, and smiled at myself in the mirror. Perfect. This was a good body. One of my best. I’d be keeping it for a while.
I knocked the mirror over and it disappeared when it hit the ground. Time for business. I walked up the hill towards the ruined church. The church wasn’t as old as it looked, but it had suffered a fire at some point in its past. No one had bothered to rebuild it, and it went to ruin. I sat on one of the graves—its face was too blackened to read any name or date on it—and waited for the others to arrive. I found it mildly annoying that I always seemed to be the first to arrive, even with all of my antics.
That’s when I heard an orange Dodge Challenger with a 440 engine. Not that I knew anything about 20th century cars. I just knew this particular car and its owner. Considering the year I was now in, it was the only car currently in existence. The car came out of the distant treeline and made its was towards the church. The muscle car tore four, unending gashes in the grass as it slid towards my across it, exposing the dark, moist soil below. I knew that the driver was smiling. He was that kind of idiot.
He slid to a stop at the bottom of the hill, tearing deeper rifts in the earth as he did, and climbed out of his monstrous car. Marlon Graves never changed his appearance except for his clothing, and even that followed distinct patterns. His hair was short, he wore a permanent 5 o’clock shadow, looked like he was in his middling to late 30s, and he was dressed in faded jeans, steel toed workboots, and a plaid shirt of red and black. He looked like nothing more than a ruggedly handsome handyman. Until, that was, he reached back into his car and pulled out a naked sword. He leaned the blade lightly against his shoulder as he made his way up the hill to the small graveyard. As far as I knew, that sword had never known a sheathe.
He stopped when he reached the outskirts of the graveyard, a lazy smile spreading across his face as stared at me.
“Very good, very good,” he said, giving the impression that he should be clapping his hands. “I think this might be my favorite one yet.”
“Mmmmm, you say that about all my bodies.”
“I admit, you have a talent.”
“Although, I must say, this look is perhaps . . . a bit anachronistic.”
“And I suppose that car of yours fits right in. That shirt too.”
“You’re always making fun of my shirts.”
“You look like a plumber from a porno. With a sword.”
“Who’s a flatterer now? Unless you’re implying that I’m compensating for something?”
“Why would I do that when you’re perfectly capable of implying yourself?”
“Such a heartless woman.”
I grunted in smug agreement.
We were interrupted by someone else coming up the hill. He was dark complexioned, and he wore cargo shorts, a white collared shirt, black sneakers, and mirrored aviators that reflected the world in indigo hues. His dark hair was just long enough for him to wear it in a pony tail.
“Shit, man. Why don’t you two just get it over with and sleep with each other, already.”
“Poor Rodriguez, seems like he’s jealous,” I said.
“I’m guessing El must’ve rejected him,” said Marlon.
“Aw, c’mon, holmes. No need to bring that shit up. It’s—just—too—painful. Sniff, sniff,” said David expressionlessly. He glanced about, frowning slightly, “Where is that woman? Always feels some need to show up last. Pain in the ass, man. I tell you.”
“Probably making sure she looks just right,” said Marlon. “She always been frustrated that she’s never been as good as Aimee.”
“Now that you mention it, everyone’s looking pretty 21st century.”
“Don’t worry about that, I’m sure El will show up in period dress,” I said.
It was about that time someone appeared upside down in the air about halfway down the hill. The results were predictable. He fell with a surprised shout and rolled end over end to the bottom, landing in a muddy tire track.
“Looks like we’ve got ourselves a new kid, homeboy and -girl.”
“Lucky for him he missed my car.”
“Shit, Graves. You’re one scary dude. I’m all aquiver and shit, and I’m not even the one that was directed at. Try not to make to new guy piss himself all over in fear.”
“Kiss my ass.”
“It’s a hard choice, but I think I’d prefer to place these fine lips o’ mine on El’s ass.”
“What about my ass?” said an annoyed voice.
“Oh, shit! El! How it been goin’, girl? I was simply remarking on how lovely an ass it is.”
“I’m sure.” She turned her gaze to me, frown deepening. David made rude gestures behind her head. I’d had more than enough practice keeping a poker face over the many, many years
“El,” I said politely.
The new arrival came up the hill, red-faced and muddy.
“New kid,” said David grandly, “come hither! We shall make introductions and then you too shall be a homie.
The newcomer frowned, probably unfamiliar with the slang, which I’m sure was David’s intention.
“I am . . . David Rodriguez the Excellent. This dude right here is . . . Marlon Graves the Insecure. The pissed off chick is . . . El Bell the Cranky. And this sexy lady who stands before you, garbed in the most disturbing of t-shirts is Aimee Transom the Terrible Tart, squisher of bugs, the first and last disciple of Silas Keller the Suicidal, and our leader!”
I curtsied politely.
“This’ll be the lady who shows you the ropes, kid.” David marched over and threw an arm over the newcomer’s shoulders in a companionly fashion. “Tell us who you are.”
The newcomer blinked rapidly, gaze shifting between us. “I, uh, I’m . . . Carl Carver the . . . Confused?”
David bellowed a short laugh and slapped Carl on the back. “Shit, El, sucks for you. Looks like he has a sense of humor. Could use some work though. You’ll have plenty of time for that, holmes.”
“I’m not so sure,” I said.
The humor drained from David’s face. “Aw, fuck, Aimee.”
“Well, I suppose for Carl it’ll be a long time, but this will be the last cycle. The E.I. dies.”
“And how,” said El, “do you plan on accomplishing that?”
I smiled viciously, probably ruining that perfect face, and said, “Total war. We’re going to be taking it too the E.I.”
“Well I’m glad to see that you have such a fantastic plan! Why didn’t I think of that?”
My smile faded, “El, your being hysterical—“
“No! No, no, no!” said, cutting the air with a hand. “Don’t you remember what happened
the last time?”
“Quite clearly,” I said, my tone sarcastic. “In fact, I seem to remember that it occurred over one hundred thousand years ago. I fucked up. We were unprepared and reeling from the death of Silas. I rushed us in, and we got hurt. Bad.
“One hundred thousand years. That’s one hell of a long time for a trauma to last, don’t you think, El?”
“What are you implying?”
“That you fear death.”
“And you don’t?”
“Oh, of course I do. We all do. But we keep it in check, and we still understand that we’re not doing this to live long, peaceful lives. We’re doing this to save humanity. Have you forgotten that?”
“We can’t save humanity if we’re dead.”
“No, but we also can’t save humanity if we’re powerless. We have a shelf-life, El. A long one, but it still exists. Every single time we use our power, the Universe gets that much closer to catching up with us. We’re nearing the peak of our powers, and it can only go downhill from there. How many real fights do you think we have in us, El?”
“I will not participate in an open war.”
I glared at her and then abruptly rose from the grave. She flinched, and I didn’t bother to suppress my amusement at her reaction.
I paced before he graves for a few moments before stopping and speaking as if to no one in particular. “Democracy is a great thing. I truly think that it is a beautiful thing that every single human can have their own opinion, and I truly think that it is a beautiful idea to take all of those opinions into account when coming to a decision that can affect everyone.”
El looked at me with suspicion, unsure of where I was going with this. David was frowning and refusing to meet anyone’s eyes. Marlon looked indifferent. Carl’s face was slack with confusion and his eyes kept moving, taking in everyone’s expressions.
“The problem with democracy,” I continued, “is that every single human has their own opinion, and for things to get done, you need agreement. A lot of times, that’s no big deal. Either people’s ideas are similar enough that they can get along or compromises can ensure that even those that don’t quite get their way can reap something of use from the bargain.
“But what happens when a compromise cannot be reached even though one must be? What happens when everyone needs to work together, but they won’t? People die. We’ve seen it happen repeatedly. No matter how hard we’ve tried, humanity fractures, divides itself up, and each respective group looks to its own self-interests at the detriment to all others. The endpoint to that is the death of humanity.
“In that case, what can be done to save humanity? A decisive choice must be made. Even if that choice happens to be unpleasant to some or all, to save humanity, it must be made. What I’m trying to do here, is save humanity.”
It was then that it dawned on David and El what I was about to do. Marlon already knew where this was heading, and Carl still had no idea what was going on.
“I suppose what I’m saying, El, is that I’m issuing you an ultimatum: Do as I tell you or die.”
She looked at me, blinking rapidly as if she hadn’t understood what I’d just said, and when it finally registered she stared at me in horror.
“You—you can’t be serious! That’s just . . . you’re not going to let her do this, are you?” She looked at David, who stood there with his jaw clenched, refusing to meet her gaze. El’s head swiveled to look at Marlon. He gazed back at her levelly. “You can stop her, can’t you? Tell her to stop!”
For a long moment Marlon looked at her, and then he turned his head to look at me. I couldn’t read his gaze, and I felt my heart rate go up. He looked up at the clear, blue sky for a few moments before returning his gaze to me.
“No. Stop. Don’t,” he said.
El began to tremble. “I won’t let you do this,” she said.
“The outcome you’re heading toward can be easily avoided,” I told her.
“No. I won’t fight.”
“Then die.” Her colored faded to sepia tones and she became flat, looking as if she were a character from a strip of old film brought to life. She began to flicker and fade.
“No!” El shrieked sounding hollow and far away. She gathered her focus and brought it to bear against me. My left arm erupted into ash, carried away on the light bre—and in an instant my arm was whole once again. A bit of color flooded back into El. I grunted annoyance. With a horribly loud crunch, El was smashed flat. The ground beneath her remained unaffected but for her blood now soaking into it. The light breeze carried the stench right into my face.
“That was . . . inelegant,” said Marlon.
“It would’ve carried on too long otherwise. This was the most efficient way.”
“I suppose. This will come back to bite us though.”
“Where do you want us?”
“Marlon, you don’t really have to do anything for the moment, but I’m sure you’ve figured out my general plan by now.”
“If you think you can advance it, then go for it.
“David, I need you to monitor Aldebaran system. I seriously doubt the E.I. will move from its position because it never has before, but . . . just keep an eye on it for a bit.
“We’ll be working together close than we’re used to this time around. This is probably the way it should’ve been from the beginning.” I cast a quick glace at El’s corpse. “We’ll return to this location on January 1st, year 2000 at, say, 1200 hours. I’ll have a more concrete plan by then.”
David disappeared without fanfare, but Marlon got back into his car and drove off. His car was out of sight when the sound of his engine suddenly ceased. I turned to Carl. He looked scared, and he had a right to be. This wasn’t exactly how I would’ve chosen this meeting, but you get what you’re given.
“You get the lecture,” I told Carl.
He nodded his head jerkily.
I sighed. “What is the E.I.?”
He blinked at me. “Evolved Intelligence. It . . . is a thing that wants to gather up Terrans and use their minds to solve problems for some reason.”
I sighed again. Frankly, you average person didn’t know much at all about the E.I. other than it wanted for some weird reason. “First, you’re going to need to learn not to use the words ‘Terra’ or ‘Terran.’ ‘Earth’ and ‘human’ are the ones you’re looking for. It might take a while to get used to, but no one will use those words for a long time. Second, the Evolved Intelligence’s purpose is to use human to transcend the Universe. Essentially, it wants to become a god.”
“But the documents said something about bypassing time and space by elevating oneself to another plane of existence.”
“If your understanding of the documents is so poor, I’m surprised you made it this far. The E.I. is pretty much in the same state as David, Marlon, and me . . . and El, I suppose.”
“But, didn’t you just—“
“Patience. The E.I. is similar to us, but it doesn’t have a physical body. ‘Evolved’ Intelligence is a bit of a misnomer. It essentially lets human minds to all the work and takes the credit from them. Sure, it has evolved, but not of its own power. Not really. Because it does not have a true physical body, it cannot exist. Because it does exist any, this means two things: it is a static entity and the Universe wants to erase it.
“By static, I mean that it has one goal and only one goal. Process of elimination leads us to believe that its goal is to supersede the Universe. Or become God, more or less.
“A somewhat reliable source, this is now very, very dead, claims that the E.I. is a collective unconscious of a race of aliens that was wiped out. Its purpose in becoming God would then be to restore its own people. If this is true, then their goal is relatively similar to our. Which is kind of amusing in a grim way.
“What I meant about El is that she still exists. All I did was destroy her physical body. She retreated into her own reality before I could kill her, so now I can’t harm her. And she can’t harm us. If she stays in this reality for too long, the Universe will kill her.”
“I, uh, see.”
“I’m sure you do.”
Carl frowned a bit at me.
“Part two of the lecture: All of us are on borrowed time. We are all paradoxes. We cannot exist, but we do. The Universe hates that, and like a body fighting and infection, it tries to self-correct by erasing us. We prevent ourselves from erasure by becoming blind-spots, and we become blind-spots by wiping out our family lines.”
“And by doing this, we created a sort of loop-hole that allows us create our own personal realities. Which, in turn, brings us back to the Universe’s attention.”
“Huh? What would you do that?”
“That’s where we derive our strength from. Our personal realities.”
“But . . . if I understand this, the Universe knows you’re here, so you should’ve been erased, but you haven’t been erased?” He blinked a few times. “You haven’t been erased because having your own reality helps stave off erasure?”
“Yes. That’s it,” I said. “Walk with me a bit. Let’s get away from this corpse.” We started moving down the hill.
“She can’t go back to her body?”
“No. If you retreat into your reality, you can’t bring your body with you. You can freely return to your body, but if it has been destroyed, you’re screwed. You only get one body.”
“Okay. In that fight you had, what happened?”
“Like I said, the Universe hates paradoxes. By thinking really loudly about the paradoxes of El’s existence, I helped bring them to the Universe’s attention. It tried to erase her. She started doing the same thing to me. We both shaved thousands of years off of each others’ lives by doing that. I decided that using my reality to crush her would be less costly than continuing as before.”
“Is that how one of those personal realities works?”
“Everyone is different. Your reality generally starts having a broad range only for its abilities to become narrower and more powerful as you age. The more you bring out your reality into this one, the more you shorten your life. Just sitting about doing nothing will shorten your life really. Which is what I meant about the whole ‘shelf-life’ bit. You’ll be in a constant struggle with the Universe not to be erased.”
“Not as bad as it sounds. Once we awaken your reality, it can act as a second brain of sorts. It’s where you’ll store new memories, and it can be . . . programmed to stave off erasure for you. Those are the first things you’ll learn.”
“I understand? Does the E.I. know of your existence.”
“Definitely. We’ve staged a direct attack on it once before.”
“Why doesn’t it come after you?”
“All I have are theories, but I think they’re pretty good ones. Humans aren’t the only sentients that the E.I. sticks into its slave-colleges, but they are, by far, the most efficient. Human breed horribly in the vats that work so well for the Rigellians and decently for the Antaresians. Even being raised normally in captivity makes for poor . . . stock. This means that by resetting the timeline back this far actually helps the E.I. Since it exists in its own reality, the E.I. is exempt from the reset. It can keep all the knowledge it gains from the slave-colleges and wait for the galaxy to repopulate itself with humans before gathering up some more and picking up where it left off.”
“Right,” I agreed. “Okay. Let’s go kill your ancestors.”
Last edited by SeriousSean; 01-20-2012 at 12:28 AM.
Goodbye and hello, as always.
Continued from my previous post.
“It’s a parking lot now. I should’ve figured,” said Marlon as he stepped out of his car. He looked around. “Ah! It’s a FEDCO parking lot! Cool. I wonder if they still have ICEEs.”
“You want one?” I asked.
I pulled a twenty out of my purse and handed it to Carl. He looked confused.
“What flavor do you want?”
“I’ll take a red too. Carl, go bring us two red ICEEs. Feel free to get your own.”
“Um, right.” He walked off, still looking confused.
“So,” Marlon asked, “what flavor is he going to get.”
“He’ll ask for mixed, but when they say no, he’ll get blue.”
“Because we’re getting red?”
“Yep, because we’re getting red,” I confirmed.
“So-o-o-o,” he said, “we’re all alone, now.”
“Don’t get any ideas.”
“Too late for that.”
“How are you holding up?”
“Fine,” I said.
“Hmmm, been brooding again?”
“Some. About humanity. About El. I don’t like what I did. I don’t like how we’ve made
countless billions of lives meaningless.”
“But you’d do it all over and over, anyway?”
“Sound like a heavy burden to carry.”
I frowned at him. We stood in silence. Carl returned in five minutes with three ICEEs. His was blue.
“Is that a mix?” Marlon asked him.
“No,” he said, hiding disappointment.
“What’s up, homeboys and –girl?” said David suddenly. “Hey! Where’s my ICEE?”
“You’re too slow, David,” I informed him.
“Shit, man. If I’d’ve known, I’d’ve got here earlier.”
“Yeah, yeah. Now, down to business,” I said. “David, I take it all is normal in the Aldebaran system?”
“Yep. Same ol’, same ol’. Our good old buddy Mr. E.I. is sitting on his ass in his own little dimension waiting for shit to conveniently happen for him,” said David sounding well and truly bored.
“No surprise there, I suppose. Anyway,” I said, “the key components for this plan are a massive, stable-enough monarchy, a massive, technologically advanced fleet, and us punching a hole into E.I.’s little hidey-hole and dragging the Universe in behind us.”
“Fucking brilliant,” said David. “Why, oh, why didn’t I think of that one.”
“Now, now. No need for that tone, David. We’ve done all this before, just not with these particular elements. Once we finish killing the E.I., we reset things again and let humanity go on its merry way.”
* * *
I stood on the bridge of the HNS Deathadder and looked at the screen displaying the system that the largest human fleet ever assembled dropped into. The Aldebaran system had two doesn’t planet and countless moons orbiting its star. Only one planet and a few of the moons were habitable in any sense of the word, and they were all under the domain of the E.I. I could literally feel the damn thing after getting this close to it. I smiled. It would end here. The true purpose of this fleet was as a back-up plan, but it would certainly help serve as a distraction while I got all up close a personal with the E.I. itself. There was a decent change that this fleet could actually purge the system of E.I. forces, and while the E.I. would still be alive, it would probably be a very long time before it could do much of anything again. I didn’t deem that a sufficient outcome though. I wanted it dead.
“Ma’am, I urge you to change the order of battle, there is still time. While you are an admiral, you are also a princess, and you should keep this in mind wh—“
“Captain,” I said, “I appreciate your concern, but I’m twelfth in line for the throne. If I weren’t a fleet admiral my only purpose would be to sit around at state dinners and look pretty, and if I were closer in line to the throne I wouldn’t be able to come all the way out here to make things go boom. Frankly, I wouldn’t really be much of a loss in the long run, and now that battle is almost upon us I seriously doubt I’ll be much use for its duration.”
“Ma’am,” said the captain with a rather pained expression, “I’m not quite sure that analysis is . . . ah . . .”
“Now, now, you mustn’t argue with a princess, Captain. That won’t do at all. I’ll be returning to the flag bridge shortly. No need for me to get in the way of your fun.” I turned and walked away, leaving the man sputtering behind me. I didn’t bother trying to hide my smile.
“You’re enjoying this quite a lot, aren’t you,” said Carl.
“Of course, my steward. There’s always an interesting new role to play, and the whole warrior princess certainly is a particularly fun combination. Now, I’m rather famished. Would you be so kind as to fetch me a sandwich? I’ll be in the flag briefing room.”
“Of course, Milady.”
* * *
I finish saying what I had to say and took a bite out of my sandwich.
“So, all these years of planning and, in the end, the plan you come up with is essentially
‘kick in the front door and kill everything’?” David asked.
“That’s about it,” I agreed.
David laughed. “Okay then, holmes. Why the fuck not?”
“I doubt they layout will have changed much, if at all, from the first time we were in there. All we need to do is get me into the . . . inner sanctum and everything is a good as over.”
“Aimee,” said Marlon, “you do realized that this is the same plan that we had the first time, don’t you?”
“And you do remember that last time we failed and most of us died, yes?”
“You’re saying things will be different this time.”
“That’s right. Get me inside and I can kill the E.I. It’s only capable of attacking by proxy.”
“Yes. It’s a personal matter.”
“A personal matter, you say. Fine.”
“Seriously?” David asked, looking between us as if we were idiots.
Marlon glared at him.
David raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Shit, man. If you say so. Who am I to argue? How exactly are we going to get getting there?”
“Marlon’s driving,” I said.
David and Carl laughed.
* * *
Being able to defy the laws of physics was a fringe benefit of what we were. This made driving a Dodge Challenger through vacuum possible. Marlon felt a need to make sure that the engine made sound.
I looked out the window at the raging space battle. I didn’t like abandoning them, even if I was unneeded. If we succeeded in destroying the E.I. then this would be another group of people who had made a choice to fight despite the odds whose lives would become utterly meaningless. This was the burden I carried, and I couldn’t be more glad that it was almost over.
“Are those ships targeting us?” asked Carl.
I spared a glance. “Probably.”
“Shouldn’t we do something about that?”
“Chillax, Carl. This car is like less than an ant compared to those things. There’s no way any of them are going to hit us.”
A hyper-velocity missile slammed into the Challenger, temporarily consuming it in a ball of blinding flames but otherwise leaving it and us unharmed.
“Shit, guess I spoke too soon.”
Marlon pointed his sword out the window at the ship that’d hit his car. An instant later, it
“Yeah, that’ll learn ‘em,” said David. “Hey, stop it here. Yeah, we’re right on the fracture. You want me to bring us in?”
“Go for it,” said Marlon. And he did.
Without any fanfare we were suddenly in the middle of a lush, strangely colored rain forest. The plants came in colors of fluorescent and neon and just about any color not generally associated with nature.
“Ah, it grew back,” said David. “I was sort of hoping that Marlon had permanently scarred the fucker.”
“I guess I should get to mowing the lawn then,” Marlon said climbing out of the vehicle. I opened the door and slid out myself, immediately flattening all the vegetation in the vicinity.
“Or maybe Aimee should give it a try,” suggested David.
“No, it’d be far more energy intensive for me to do it. Marlon is far more efficient that way. Shouldn’t we be under attack?”
“I’m sure we’re all wondering the same thing,” said Marlon bitingly.
The ground beneath our feet shifting slightly was all the warning we had before it exploded upwards. Marlon’s abilities lay solely in the realm of making things die, and Carl’s were unrefined and scattered. Both of them were thrown by the explosion while David and I barely moved.
“That was El,” I said.
“Sure was. Bitch must’ve been pissed as hell at you when you killed for her to come to the E.I. I figured she’d just crawl into some corner and cry for eternity.”
“Efficiency be damned,” I said and flattened the forest for as far as the eye can see. This exposed what appeared to be a small bunker in the distance. I was going to pay for using that much power. Badly.
“You sure you didn’t crush the other two with that?”
“It doesn’t work on Marlon anyway.”
“He’ll be fine.”
“Right. Where is she?”
“I’d go after Carl.”
“I’d go after you.”
“You may have a point.” The ground below my feet tried to explode again, but it only shifted with a muffled thump. “Not that it matters. I’m more worried about the lack of resistance.”
Once again, the ground below my feet started to move, but this time it felt different. Forms began rising from below the flattened foliage, turbines howling and weapons bristling. There were a lot of them. The problem wasn’t the shuttles. They weren’t a threat. The problem was the usage of power. Right now the Universe couldn’t actually do anything about it since we were in the E.I. reality, but it was keep track. If we pushed too hard the power would stop coming, and the moment we popped back into the real world we’d be erased.
“Aimee, just head for the prize,” said David, looking grim.
“Yeah. Don’t run too wild.”
“You know me, homegirl. I’m always cool.”
I turned and began running at a brisk pace towards the bunker, pounding any shuttles that fired at me flat into the ground.
“You bitch!” El’s pale, quivering shadow shrieked at me from nearby. She had no power in the real world, and the only reason she was capable of anything in here was because the E.I. permitted it. She wasn’t showing much in the way of self-preservation anymore. All that was left of El was the static image of the person she was the instant her body was destroyed. I flattened her too. There wasn’t a crunch this time.
My memory about this was vague at best, but I knew I was headed the right way. I smiled grimly. The bunker was made of concrete and its door was thick steel. The door didn’t slow me down much. Beyond the door was a flight of stairs that went down. The stairs opened up onto a dimly lit hallway which continued for a way before opening up into a large, undecorated antechamber. All that remained of Silas Keller waited for me there.
“I wondered when you’d show up next,” he said in that same, barely remembered voice.
“And here I am,” I said.
“Yes. Here you are.”
“Before I kill you, I have a question to ask.”
He smiled slightly. It was filled with amused contempt. “Kill me? Don’t you remember what happened last time?”
“That was a long time ago.”
“Yet you can still remember it as clearly as you do what you have for lunch.”
I smiled at that. “Just answer the question. Why did you kill yourself?”
“Because humanity is worth saving.”
“Look at them. They make the same mistakes over and over. No matter how hard we tried or what we did it was always the same. They stab each other in the back, and then when they are danger they go crawling back to each other for help. Too little to late. Hundred of thousands of years I tried to help them and save them only to watch them fuck it all up once again. Humanity is disgusting, and so I resolved myself to aid in their destruction with my death. The E.I. never rejects honest help.”
“I see,” I told him. “I guess that makes me the opposite of you. I’ve always thought that my ability is arrogant. It’s fitting though. I carry the weight of humanity on my shoulders. It is certainly a crushing weight, yet I carry on. Just as Marlon Graves carries on with that same burden. Although, I suppose he doesn’t see this burden in the same way I do.
“You were already crushed by this burden, crushing you once again would be easy. And if you think my memories and love for you will save you, then you’re wrong. Memories mean something different once they’ve faded.”
After I finished with Silas, I passed through the antechamber and into the room beyond. When I first saw the E.I., the enemy that I had spent so very long fighting against, I could do nothing but stare at it in shock. It stared right back. Just perhaps, I saw something of my burden in it.
“Game over, you old ghost.”
* * *
I was sitting atop one of the tombstones behind that ruined church again. Suddenly, Marlon was sitting on the one next to mine.
“So it’s done then,” he said.
“Yeah. It’s done.”
“It was Silas wasn’t it?”
I snorted. “How long did you know?”
“I didn’t know, I just figured. A long time. How did you beat it?”
“Remember that talk we had about the nature of nostalgia?”
He stared at me for a long moment, and then he laughed. “I see,” he said.
We were silent for a while after that before he spoke up again. “How much time do you have left,” he asked casually.
I thought about it a moment. “Maybe five hundred years, give or take a few. As long as I don’t do anything . . . strenuous. You?”
“Me?” he said. Something in his tone compelled me to look at him. He showed me a small, frightened smile and said, “My time’s already up.” After that, he was gone forever. I might’ve cried a bit.
I waited quite a while longer, but no one showed up. As I was preparing to leave this place for good, Carl came walking up the hill with a pair of aviators clutched in his hand.
“Sorry, I got lost.”
He handed me the aviators. I hadn’t realized that they were real.
“He said that they were something to remember him by, and that I should tell you he said, ‘Sorry, chica. I tried to keep it cool, but the fire ran wild.’”
We stood in silence for a while.
“Human brains are imperfect,” I said. “They tend to forget things that have been left to set for a while. That’s why we create a second, perfect memory bank. I was talking to Marlon, and he said that’s why we don’t get nostalgia. Our memories are too perfect. Nostalgia requires decay. He told me that he used to move memories that he disliked or was particularly fond of back into his brain to let them decay a little and then move them back. Nostalgia isn’t a bad feeling, is all. Might be an interesting thing to try.”
“Uh, right,” said Carl. “So what do we do now?”
“What ever we want. You ever have anything you wanted to do?”
“Well, those race cars looked pretty fun.”
“I always wanted to try being an astronaut one day, but I have a few centuries before I’ll get to try that. There’s always an interesting new role to play.”
Goodbye and hello, as always.