I felt the power of my flow suddenly amplify, we all did, all the humans, all the Tal, all the surviving Batu, N’Goran, and Ghee. We all felt it as our most precious resource gushed out of us and was drawn into a single dark mechanism, The Paradox Machine. I felt it as our driving force propelled the deadly craft through the waves of nothingness and back, carrying a single phial of the second most genocidal object known to man, and Tal, designed specifically to destroy the first most genocidal object known to man, but the Saviour of the Tal, the object in question’s name was Glur’ak, he was a neandertal. I felt history changing in my bones, I felt the syringe stabbing into the hairy quasi-human’s arm, and his confusion as the small levitating pill-shaped device seemed to dissolve before his eyes, I sensed the virus slowly spreading throughout the eons, infecting every last one of the abominations. I felt as our power was drained again as the craft returned, and every single Tal doubled over in pain as the lethal virus was triggered and the Paradox Slaughter began.
The immediate response was terrifically terrible. The Council member standing over me clutched his stomach, than his head, then (as his knees gave out) his arms, his large dirty white and black armor toppled to the ground, I was barely aware of the sharp, deadly Fulminata Key that was buried deep in my high tech Flow Armor, penetrating my flesh just enough to be deadly, no, I only had eyes for the suffering monster in front of me. It deserved all the pain it could get.
After one final spasm, the non-gentle giant’s limbs were skewed at an angle unnatural for even a creature whose joints were ALL balljoints. I stumbled over the body of it and several others to the door of the Launch Room. There it was, the Paradox machine lying on the floor next to one of my best friends. I immediately ran (more like limped) over to where Ian Shi lay knocked against the wall. I gently jostled his arm.
“Ian, are you okay?” I could feel myself bleeding out.
“H-Huh, Jel, you’re okay, but I saw you get stabbed?”
“Uh, I’m just glad you’re okay Shard.” I automatically reconfigured the cubes in my armor to hide the weapon, but blood still drained out of my body. I would have to pull it out soon, but not until I made sure everyone was okay, besides, I only had minutes to live. I started to black out, but pulled myself back. I was strange that I wasn’t feeling any pain.
“Thanks,” said Ian, “Now go find Garth.” He rested his hand on my stomach, I knew he was fine, but it was still unnerving to see him pass out. I tried to get up, but his robotic hand, made out of the same floating, Solid-Mellaton cubes as my armor, had imbedded itself in MY cubes, I felt it take control of them, and tried to back away, but he held tight, and opened his eyes.
“As if I wouldn’t notice,” he said with a rueful smile. I felt his hand closing around the Key.
“I-Ian, we have to find Garth first,” it was a weak excuse and I knew it. If Ian was fine Garth would be too.
“Shaker’s okay,” Ian said, pointing over my shoulder. I swung my head around to see my OTHER best friend Garth Fracas getting up from the dusty floor.
“I can’t believe you still call me that,” he said among intermittent coughing. I was distracted by Garth, so I didn’t realize that Ian had pulled out the key until I turned back, then the pain hit. I collapsed on the floor, quickly losing blood and consciousness. As my eyes closed I saw Garth running over. He looked scared.
I watched as Jelani fell to the ground, there was a pool of blood around her, I flashed back to the deaths of some of our other friends; Raymond fell to the ground, a hole in his chest; Will lay on the concrete, bleeding from dozens of cuts; General Benter sprawled on the ground, a Huntre crouching on top of him, reaching its wiry fingers towards my face. I tried to focus on the matter at hand, but I was too afraid, I can’t let her die. I felt the Flow in my bones. I was so afraid. The blood disappeared. Its atoms manipulated into empty air. The cut closes. Jelani opened her eyes. For a moment, I saw myself in her eyes. I was standing over her, my eyes glowing with purple fire, a look of sympathy and terror on my face. The Flow slowly wore off. I knelt down, next to her.
“Are you okay now?” I whispered.
“Fine, thanks to you” I was about to reply when a smug voice answered instead.
“No problemo Jel, happy to help.”
“Uh, Ian, what did you do?”
“For one, I pulled out the Key, making it easier for you to heal her, for two, I woke you up, and got you scared enough to Flow.” Maybe I should explain what Flow is, in case you didn’t know. Flow is the physical manifestation of emotion. When a being is in a heightened emotional state specialized radiation pools off of them, the radiation can knock protons from atom to atom and change the rate at which atoms vibrate. Basically allowing someone to summon elements and change states of matter, normally all of a species has the same Flow, and its for something stupid, like getting food, or mating, or resting, but with humans, its different, there are millions of different Flows that we have, we also have multiple Flows for each person. I, for example, Flow for planning and fear. Most of the time, people’s Flow is relatively weak, amounting to minor time manipulation, (Time flies when you’re having fun) or object teleportation. Then the N’Goran made a device that amplifies Flow, and the Tal stole it. The Tal used to Flow for getting back to Earth, so while the Tal would be invulnerable super-aliens, any species that stood in their way would use telekinesis for eating, or mating, or hunting, or some other semi-useless crap. But when they actually got back to earth, humans had evolved tons of different Flows, which gave us a HUGE upper hand, since we had people who Flowed for things like anger, or boxing, or fighting, or juggling. (NEVER underestimate the power of juggling)
“What happens now?” she asked.
“I don’t know, we beat the Enemy. Beat them so finally they’ll never recover, but now there are only a billion humans, it’ll take a long time to get back to what we had ten years ago. Heck, it’ll take awhile to get back to what we had in the Arrowhead War!”
“I don't think so, we have the Artifact, and the cubes and controllers, we should be in tip top shape in no time.”
“ I guess so,” I was still worried, what if we fell back into civil war?
“I can’t believe we did it, I can't believe we finally defeated them,” Jel was practically hopping up and down with happiness. I was happy too, we were free.
“What should we do about the Mellaton?” asked Ian, looking out the window at the huge clouds of purple gas enveloping the earth.
“Well, we could shoot it, it should be volatile enough to ignite the whole thing, then we just wait until it burns off, and in the meantime, we have an artificial sun.” Jel’s idea seemed good but I saw a flaw.
“Then the earth is barbecued, it wouldn’t just burn, it would blow up, taking most of our atmosphere with it, and shooting fire everywhere.”
“Good point.” she said, looking pale.
“What if we just use it all,” Ian suggested “we can make a beacon, like a constantly activating Fulminata chip, than the Mellaton just plasmizes into lightning, we get power to light the world, and burn off the Mellaton, win-win!” He smiled, he didn’t know it, but the whites of his eyes had been tinted silver. Ian flowed for inventing things, usually tech.
“It’s done!” I exclaimed, it had been a week since the Paradox Slaughter, and I had finally finished the last Fulminata beacon. Jel and Shaker rushed in,
“Really? That was so much faster than the others.”
“Well, yeah dummy. You can expect him to be fast if he’s done it forty-nine times!” she hit him good naturedly on the elbow, accidentally Flowing and knocking him down.
“Anyhow, let’s go.” I was excited, it would take three years for the skies to be blue again, but it was going to happen! I stepped out onto the glassway, ‘coptercars zooming over my head. The city was beautiful! Portal was alive with activity. It was incredible that Devil’s Horns Island remained nearly untouched by the Earth War. All the lights were out, due to power shortage after the siege, but not for long, The beacon would provide power for all of nethequatorial america. While we walked, the beacon on a hovercart in front of us, people started to poke their heads out of windows and cars, spotting us and cheering, soon there was almost a parade of people trailing behind us, like children after an ice cream truck. It wasn’t a long walk to Freedom Base II, where we had activated the Paradox Machine.
By the time we got there, most of the city was gathered. I hooked the beacon into the pre-made cradle on the roof, and engaged some start-up tests, the other beacons were already active. I thought it fitting that the symbol of humanity's rebirth would rest on the shoulders of what made it possible. I looked out onto the mall, it was a replica of the one that used to be in washington DC, before it was bombed into radioactive sludge. It had a huge grass lawn lined with cherry blossom trees, it even had a reflecting pool! (no lincoln memorial though, the most we had was a museum with marble busts of famous leaders)
There were a ton of boring speeches and songs, and stuff, my favorite one was Garth’s, he spoke about the formation of the HLAF and about General Benter, and how ‘The next step was to forge a friendship with the other, less fortunate survivors of the Enemy’ (he was talking about the aliens) In my head I pictured humans roaming throughout the universe under a banner of freedom and diversity. Jelani went out on stage and demonstrated some stuff with the Flow armor. (and then turned into a monster, which the kids loved) Finally the three of us, and some other important leaders (not that I’m an important leader) gathered on the roof to activate the machine, for the first time in years I could feel myself slipping back into scaredy-cat mode. What if the beacon didn’t work? What if the Artifact shut down? I looked at Garth, I could tell that he felt the same way. He noticed my gaze and leaned over.
“I keep expecting someone to run up and say that the Enemy actually survived, or that there’s more of them, or that the Arrowhead War’s starting up again, or that the Ghee are attacking, you know how warlike they are, what if the-”
“Shaker, its gonna be fine, everything’s gonna be okay.” and for the first time ever, I actually meant it. Sure the Human race has had problems, but when has THAT ever stopped us, we would still have problems, and they would be SO much worse than before. Just thinking about how we would communicate with the non-speaking Batu was making my head hurt. I couldn’t think about those things now, so I focused on the switch, it was a giant antique looking thing, a long rod with a ball on the end, clearly visible to the audience, in the past, there would have been an entire sub-committee dedicated to the switch, now we just had a lunch meeting for the entire ceremony. I stepped forward and threw the switch, it made a loud clanking sound, the beacon rumbled, and a bolt of beautiful white lightning shot down from the dark clouds to the metal pylon, crackled its way inside the Beacon where it was transformed down, stored in the giant battery below and delivered through the veins of the new world, to the people of the old.