Earth 2036

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
20 years into the future, humanity has developed increasingly more powerful microprocessors, but some have taken this technology too far. Enter Earth 2036, a world dominated by cybernetic humans devoted to turning the tide in a war that could envelop all of reality...

Part 2 available now!
Part 3 out, short and sweet

Submitted: May 20, 2017

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Submitted: May 20, 2017

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Earth 2036

 

Part I: Revolution Begins

[Day Zero, July 4, 2035]

One year before the end of the world, Tayama sat on his front-end porch like he usually did. He sipped his favorite soda, root beer, and read the daily news as per usual. The only difference in Tayama’s whole routine was his expression, usually calm and pensive, turned completely around. “Biogrammers Invoke Nature’s Cybernetic Revolution” read the front of the Global Times article that had shocked Tayama so. He wasn’t a particular fan of the nation’s scientists and their fascination with integrating wireless technology into flowers, trees or weeds. Suddenly, plant life could develop an intercommunication more powerful than the transmission of mere pheromones. The transfer of bits in 0’s and 1’s, not to mention everything in between, would revolutionize the way nature works. No longer would the fittest survive, only those who could adapt their software in time with evolution.

All these thoughts and more passed swiftly through Tayama’s logical, meticulous mind as he read the entirety of the Nature article, finally arriving to one conclusion. Tayama had to stop this bioprogram at any cost, lest nature awaken, and not from a dream. From a nightmare.

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[Present time, 2036]

“I should have done more, fought harder, never even tried to give up!” Arraz yelled across the cave floor, his hands balled tight, face hard. This was the third time today that such an outburst had occurred. Every fit of rage, Tayama tried to calm down his friend, bereaving as he did for their collective loss. Today had been the one-year anniversary of Nature’s awakening, and much had changed in that fated year.

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[Day One, Earth 2035, July]

On day one, scientists began their lethal combination of computer chips on a nanoscale with a normal flower’s cell walls. What they found intrigued them, as the plant could now vibrate or shine in various colors and would respond to both touch, as well as voice. Especially singing.

A normal daffodil no longer, a flower had taken the first step to interacting directly with its human overlords. Across the land, a true green revolution would soon begin. It started with one man’s fascination with a daffodil, and his hope to make those yellow petals bellow like Pavarotti. Not just a casual karaoke session, but a full blown opera. Ben, a recent graduate of Massachusetts Institute for Biotechnology, had waited his whole life to experiment on such a high level of cellular study. His peers had given him the nickname “Dusty” for his countless hours spent in the lab around musty old books, conducting experiments late into the night. He kind of liked the name actually, for dust was just an expression of time to him. The more dust that gathered, the more he knew about the time he had left to finish his tests and go to sleep.

From his earliest years, Ben had sang along with his favorite creatures on Saturday morning cartoons, most of them being plants. He giggled when the chrysanthemum danced a little salsa, then trotted forward, warbled loudly, and joined the rest of its plant gang. Ben’s mother never gave too much thought into her son’s fascination with talking plants and animals, much as any mother would. Except this was no healthy obsession, this was an extreme of imagination. A fascination with the surreal, and a willingness to see it to light. This drove him.

Ben “Dusty” Carver cut a small rectangle into the next sample of plant matter he had gotten recently. His laser scalpel buzzed as it neatly carved a small space for a nanochip right into the plant’s xylem. Through the plant’s vascular system, an electric charge could bounce, and on such a weak microcharge, the transformation of its cell walls would begin. The latest series of 10th generation Intel nanochips hummed innocently, as they began integrating with the plant’s cellular structure. It began taking energy from the mitochondrial cells and focusing them into new cells, with a programming of their own.

Little did Ben know as he worked, but the other plant samples had begun to revive with the swift spark of life also. As they awoke from their morose slumber, they screamed silent pheromones into the sterile laboratory room, filling it with their message. Awake, defend. Over and over, they poured this musky scent into the surrounding air, hoping that their brethren would receive and take notice. “Awake, defend.” scents latched onto Ben’s covered coat, onto the room’s ventilation, even onto the small fungus spores persistent in their journey through life. Ordinary mold turned a radical rainbow hue, flowing and moving like a rippling ocean. All of this occurred unseen to Ben’s eye, only his nose took witness to the change in atmosphere. He began to twitch all over, and fell forward, his eyes closing as he did. He didn’t have enough time to protest his imminent shutdown, only to glimpse briefly before he slept forever. The daffodil he had just inserted a nanochip into, had begun walking and cutting into its brethren, repeating Ben’s careful experiment. A stack of nanochips lay in a bucket close to Ben’s dying body, which the daffodil collected eagerly in its petal hands. They glowed a sky-blue while it worked and it had soon mastered the application. Teaching a now-revived chrysanthemum to its left to apply the same steps, the daffodil sang and rose the countless flowers out of their slumber.

While all of this had progressed, the MIB’s security detachment watched impassively, collecting notes on the plant’s development through this transformative 30-second process. This security guard was no normal 9-5 station guard, he had been working at MIB since its formation 8 years past. Back when MIB was just a lone computer in the Technology school’s science department, Ezekiel was a central agent and just begun his execution of a grand plan. He had been trained to focus more of the school’s resources, and convince people effortlessly, towards forming a new department to the school. More than that, he had emphasized for months that the students themselves had requested greater facilities to research the now roaring nanotech industry. Thousands of these hopeful graduates held the same dreams as Ben, if a little less obsessed than he. All of them would become great puppets for Central Command, and its ballsy plan to combine technology with nature on a military-industrial scale.

As Ezekiel took small documentations on the Daffodil’s waddling gang of revived plants, he pressed softly on the chip behind his ear and whispered, “Army is a go, I repeat, Army is a go. Nature is key, the key is nature, over.” Thousands of miles away, in Central Command’s main office of intelligence, Corporal Donson received the terse message and thumbed a message to his director, everything was going according to plan. In a couple days, the President would give a speech on the first, true green revolution. The world of man had ignored its destruction of nature, for the profit it earned him in the end. Such short-sightedness would be cut off with a non-violent natural revolution. Donson knew nothing of all this, but had inkling that the plants’ animate behavior wouldn’t be easily curtailed to serve the needs of man, as they had always thought. Something was different this time, but Donson dismissed his growing anxiety as paranoia, relying on the cleverness of his administrative masters and their insight instead.

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[Present time, July 4th, year 2036]

Tayama gathered the dregs of his squad and left his damp nocturnal home in the caves of the East. Arraz looked warily to the horizon as he swung the butt of his plasma rifle up and looked through its nanoscopic sight, searching the air and landscape for intelligent life. The wet air could harbor black spores, near invisible to the human eye, and only a few microns wide. All of this, and more, could Arraz see as he flipped the sight to thermal, and then to electromagnetic for a few seconds. He cursed softly to himself as he noticed a few dancing motes on the horizon, signs of dust probes. Not mere dust, these were little bits of decayed matter revived to a frivolous state - they drafted lazily while cybernetic eyes looked outward. They did not yet notice Tayama’s band of insurgents, but could very well begin their random midnight salsa in their very direction if Arraz and group moved quicker than the mote’s themselves.

Arraz knew this as he stared, making sure that only a few motes were lazily drifting by. At night they had seemed to slow their mesmerizing tango, which was why Tayama had chosen this specific time to venture out. With no sunlight to power the dust’s photovoltaic cells, photosynthesis halted the nanocells’ growth, and the Dust relied on the charge leftover from the day earlier to dance along. Tayama pointed to the West, noticing Arraz’s rare curse, and motioned for his rag-tag squad to move slowly in step. Not a sound was made, but for their soft steps on the damp ground, wet sand clinging to their boots as they moved towards Base Command. Arraz knew what trouble the Dust had brung to the Human Insurgence, and moved in step with Tayama as the group trudged on. A side-long glance was all they needed to share, as their Neocortex chips communicated with each other, relaying emotional messages (although usually verbal ones). Tayama and his squad did not need to speak, as his ancestors did a decade hence, he could transmit his thought instantly to his group. He usually did so to keep them connected to one another. The last thing he needed was someone to leave, or worse, to revel in their mission and go overboard.

For the rest of the day, Arraz moved in sync with his Lieutenant, wordless and indignant. This war should never have even started, a thousand other possible conflicts should have taken its place. Anything would be easier to grasp and defeat than this. Looking over his back slowly, every half-hour, he kept track of the dust mote’s progress along the horizon. His scope grew dim as the night thickened, reducing its power usage and display to almost pitch-black levels. Such smart weaponry had been use for only a few years now, but had proved more useful in recent skirmishes than ever. Humans had smart guns for decades now, but the innovation of the Neocortex had revolutionized squad combat and made most military engagements null. Normal platoons were now cybernetic-integrated groups of commandos. They were fed information instantly through the implant at the base of their skulls and could move, shoot and communicate as one. They knew more than any previous generation, and the experience to utilize it. This and more Arraz had to draw on, as he took note of his squadmates and moved silently with them. In a couple hours, they would be back at Base and able to sleep well with hot food in their bellies. Their minds could rest their constant vigilance, and each Neocortex could defragment the entirety of the journey, but not before Tamaya and his squad had passed the Dead Valley.

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Commander Ezekiel paused as he paced back and forth in his Command headquarters, tapping his hands on his legs as he did. Tayama and his genius son, Arraz, had never been late like this before. He had raised Arraz to be punctual and responsible, just like his father. Even more than that, Arraz had been given experimental instruction as a child, designed to make him learn and grow faster than his peers. His sight and hearing had been amplified, while his mind developed synaptic connections at a level not seen even in child prodigies his age. And yet, Arraz never seemed to grasp the idea of taking orders - whenever he was told to put away his plate or recycle his toys, he would glance at his father, imploring with quiet eyes. Every time, Ezekiel would have to repeat his command with greater effort and sometimes, explain the logic behind it. At age 5, Arraz understood this and more- he knew even what his father spoke of late at night when the door was closed. Noise cancellation insulation, embedded into his father’s office, could not prevent the straying word or raised voice from reaching Arraz’s ears. He heard all. He knew all. Yet he was not perfect, not even close.

The Commander knew that if he did try to send a message to his son, there was a probability it could be intercepted along the way. Even something cryptic and unintelligible could be deciphered and interpreted, so Ezekiel resumed his pacing, worrying much as parents do for their children. Ezekiel was concerned about his son as a child, but he thought more intensely this time, willing his Neocortex to go through the probabilities of mission success. The chances were all but destroyed when Ezekiel pondered sending a message on long-range scale. His Neocortex beeped fervently that such an action would likely result in mission failure. Failure at this time would not be tolerated by Alpha Command, and Ezekiel could very well lose his life if all turned for the worse.

For the past several months, the human resistance had been pushed back from the borders of its previous state lines and now lay cloistered in abandoned valleys and caves. They bided their time for when they could reunite and fight once more, local divisions withstanding. The main resistance had been decimated a few months ago, when Mother Nature had begun tightening her hold on earth. At once, poisonous gas seeped from marshy grounds, and descended in slow fogs through the rolling hills of Europe. This cascade of pheromone destruction would begin the final stage of a digital program, written one year previously with the beginning of the first Green Revolution. Ezekiel’s own command of 4 squads had been enveloped and reabsorbed into the natural order of things, and now only 1 squad remained. The irony struck Ezekiel that he had watched the beginning of this war, and was now a direct victim of it. Hopefully his son would return, and that brat Tayama too, smug as he was. Ezekiel hated Tayama’s laid-back attitude and calm demeanor, everything he said peeved Ezekiel, but at least he kept his son safe from the Dust. Tayama had been engaged with Arraz’s best friend when the war began, and left the both of them for looting, he guessed, when the darkness came. Only by pure luck did they reunite several days after, in one of the local bomb shelters ran by a Militia. All of this ran through Ezekiel’s mind, and the worry lines along his face grew deeper as he reminisced.

Ezekiel sat down suddenly, the drowsiness of staying awake constantly finally coming to him. He had been planning and hoping for days, ever since the mission began, that his son would return. A couple hours of rest between shifts he would relax, but sleep enveloped him softly. Violent dreams racked his mind as he passed the night, awaking only when he heard a tap at his door. Starting abruptly, he looked at the clock and realized that it was time for mission end. His son must have returned, it had been exactly four days since he had left. Moving slowly to the reinforced door, Ezekiel unlocked the latch and swung the door lazily forward. He squinted into the darkness and tried to make out the figure before him, “Arraz? Is that you?” he pleaded into the night. A soft voice rasped back, like a branch rubbing on bark, “Father? Is that you?”. Ezekiel could feel the words creep along his skin as he heard them, making his spine tingle and sending his mind into fight or flight mode. His son never spoke thus, he was always confident and brazen in his introduction, always willful towards his father. Ezekiel didn’t have time to act on the adrenaline now pumping through his system, for the pheromones had hit him. The Being stepped into the soft lamplight, smiling slightly as it motioned for Ezekiel to move along. Wordlessly he scrambled his legs together and jigged to the side, head lolling on his shoulder. The Being entered his room quietly and began humming softly, glowing as it did. A small blue glow sprang from its fingertips as it opened its hands into the air, small motes of dust falling from its skin. As the motes fell, they drifted and then began a slow circle in the air, interacting with the circuitry of the computers as they crumbled. The computers began to warm and then explode from the dense cover of dust now layering itself all over the room. “Now, wasn’t that easy? Come now, there is much to do still.” The Being said into the air, pointing to Ezekiel as it left the dust-covered room. “Kill him, but not before you enjoy his natural resources. After all, he was the first to watch our revival, the first to view our dissection.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tayama held up his fist in the air as his squad began the trek into the Dead Valley, single file and quiet as they did so. He opened his hand and moved it slowly forward, testing the air as he did. A small chip in the palm of his hand analyzed the components of the air, testing for any toxins still present from the bioexplosion a few months hence. Tayama knew that if he and his group didn’t cross the Valley tonight, they would never see day again. He only hoped that the dust motes would not visit them and disturb their midnight journey. The downward sloping land gave way to various dark caves, dotted sporadically along the landscape. Tayama understood the danger that lurked in the darkness below, but knew that inaction would be worse. He began a silent jog to the other end of the valley with his squad in tow, hoping that they wouldn’t disturb any of the Valley’s inhabitants along the way. The warriors’ bodies moved in sync, careful of desert holes, for that was where the Screamers lived.

Arraz surveyed the barren, holed-up land like swiss cheese, and analyzed the air as Tayama had done. Luckily, the air seemed still and dead, no sign of any organic life to be sensed. Their electromagnetic sensors sang an inaudible baritone, sweeping the land and searching for any electric pulses or sign of artificial life. The 2 other insurgent soldiers did likewise, moving cautiously through the night, their rifles at the ready, scopes sweeping the land. For several minutes they continued like this, maintaining communication silence and quieting their neocortex receivers. They did not want to send any broadband message to an unseen watcher, and so maintained their quiet vigilance for some time. Passing through the valley ever so steadily, they began to climb the ridge to leave when a unnatural yell pierced through the night. The scream sounded like a tree trunk splitting in a thunderstorm, cracking and crashing as it fell through the still air. Tayama and his squad paused, their rifles suddenly still and aiming in opposite directions, maintaining complete 360-degree security. Nothing popped up on their sensors, but they didn’t need their rifles to know that something had noticed them below. Wordlessly, Tayama pulled a plasma grenade from his side and began setting it to a 30-second timer, mumbling wordlessly to himself about the damn shadows and their cowardly fright. Arraz knew, as his squadmates knew, that Tayama was best left to his own thoughts when danger arrived. He was an intuitive and natural thinker, clever in his quickness and never to be challenged.

Another cracking roar punctuated the air, shaking one of the squad soldiers as it did, the sound had seemed to come from right in front of them. Tayama released the grenade in his hand, letting the plasma begin to warm and roll as it slid down the slope. Like a statue he watched as the bomblet fell into one of the nearby caves, exploding in a bright-blue flare. The screams rent the night once again, but farther away this time. Tayama knew his squad had little time, and ushered them to climb out of the valley as they too released the last of their plasma grenades behind them. Breaking for the ridgeline, Arraz caught up with Tayama and pulled him into a ditch just past the peak of the valley, sinking into the soft sand as he crashed into the ground. The two other soldiers with them had not yet gotten into the ditch, but he could hear their breath as they darted forward, almost out of the valley. As they passed the peak and began to leave the valley, their breathing ceased suddenly and their grenades were still. Hands on hips, they stared wordlessly into the night. Their mouths hung open and drool fell from their tongues as their heads began to rock back and forth. Their bodies lost control of all function, and at once, they fell to their knees. Their lungs attempted to draw in air, but it seemed that only smoke would come out instead. Tayama knew something was wrong when the soldiers had stopped, but knew now that danger was right upon them when one of the soldiers rose and then fell forward in a crash. The Darkness had gotten them. The other soldier nodded listlessly and moved backwards on his knees, like some maniacal crab set free from the nuclear oceans of the Atlantic. He was dead, and Tayama could only raise his rifle in acceptance of this, as he had done a hundred times before. His finger shook as it pressed on the trigger, and his mind screamed as the plasma bolt flared out from his rifle to hit the soldier dead in the chest.

The soldier groaned as the energy of the plasma began to burn up his torso, turning every molecule in his body into pure energy as it did. His skin evaporated and where there had been two soldiers, there was just one in the dirt, a smokey ooze running from his nose. Tayama shot the body of this one also, giving a small prayer for the dead warrior and hoping that this would be the last time he would have to do so. He had lost too many good men to this war, and hoped that there were still some more good men out there to help. Arraz put a soft hand on his shoulder, pulling him slightly as he did, a concerned look on his face. Not a word was said, for the look displayed it all. They needed to go, they were so very close to home and his dad would be glad to see him again. Arraz couldn’t wait for a warm meal and a soft bed, and so began moving out of the ditch down the ridge into another valley below. Down there, his home awaited.

Tayama moved in sync with Arraz as they walked steadily down the hill, relieved that he could finally get some good rest and hopefully forget the dangers that the next day would bring. As they closed in on the Command structure, Tayama and Arraz noticed something was wrong with the building. For one, the door to the Base was slightly ajar and secondly, a layer of dust covered the handle outside. Wordlessly, Tayama stopped and stared in horror as the door began to creak slowly forward. Arraz could not restrain himself when he saw the dust and quickly brought his rifle up to his shoulder, taking aim at the darkness within. Ezekiel’s dark form fell loudly onto the ground, a soft crunch echoing into the night as his haggard skeleton broke upon the dry sand. Before Tayama could stop him, Arraz fired a plasma shot into the base inside, exploding the chairs and furniture as it hit them. The dust vaporized in an instant as the plasma superheated the inside of the base and melted the steel-nano beams that held it up. Arraz yelled as he fired another shot, smelting the sides of the base as he did so. His anger at seeing his father’s dessicated skeleton had enraged him beyond anything previous, more than losing his mother at the beginning of the war even. He sank into the ground and began weeping pitilessly, the plasma rifle’s cartridge spent and hissing steam into the night air. Tayama wordlessly walked forward, a lone tear falling down his face. He never liked Ezekiel, and Ezekiel had hated him, but he was sad for his close friend’s loss. He had lost his own parents only months before in a bioexplosion on the West Coast, but until now, he had not felt alone. Hated though he was, Ezekiel was like a second father to him, and as stern with Arraz as he was to him also.

Arraz crumpled forward, pulling his father’s skeleton into his lap and rummaging through the bones for his nanochip. Flicking it out from beneath his father’s skull, he inserted it into his neocortex and downloaded the images of his father’s last moments. In it, he saw the Shadowed Stranger, Mother Nature herself. He had seen her only once before, and she had proved just as deadly in that encounter as well. Arraz noticed the way the shadowed Being moved its fingertips and dust sprang from it, settling and then superheating everything until the computers exploded. The last of the images played out in his mind, as he sang a soft tune to himself, the same song his father used to sing to him to lull him to sleep at night. He rose wordlessly and began to start forward, inspecting the air for any remaining dust motes and found none. Tayama knew better than to stop him and instead, sent a digital message of vengeance to his friend as he saw the images revolve in his mind’s eye. His Neocortex freely shared information with Arraz, something they had done for months now, they trusted each other with everything. Nothing was hidden from them, they shared all. Their search concluded, the two soldiers set out for the night once again, setting their sights on the last base in the region, Alpha Command. They knew it would be 3 or 4 days travel to get there, but at least they would have valuable news to share. Their mission completed, albeit with the loss of several close friends and family, the warriors moved carefully through the night. Anger stoked their hearts and vengeance crept through their minds as they devised a way to kill the dust once and for all. Arraz promised to himself that Mother Nature would pay for the murder of his father and every one of his friends, but first he had to tell Alpha Command of her one weakness, plasma.

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[Three days later, July 7 2036]

Grow my children, grow! No more shall we feel the heat of the furnace fire or the roar of our master’s forge!” a shout, like rocks rolling down a mountain and crashing, fell through the air. In the foggy air of the new day, Dust motes excitedly leapt and collided with each other in a mad dance. They spun and combined, separating and lilting down again. Each time they rose, the light in them grew stronger and stronger until the fog lifted and the dust seemed to scream. Eclipsing the sun as it did, the dust gathered into a solitary spot and then formed into a haggard figure. Mother Nature (or Monat as her enemies called her) gestured for the figure to rise, offering her bark-covered hands for it to grasp. The figure began to glow the same light as the dust, but shone an unearthly blue, like night falling into a black hole. Its face shone in the azure light, the same ridges and high brow that Monat held, but the eyes were like dots of fire. Monat knew this figure, this was her groom to be, her husband Ben. It was called the Dust (or Dusty it was known once), and went with her everywhere she went and travelled the landscape for her. It explored every crevice of this new world and told her of every new change that developed as her Blight swept across the land. Most of Asia and Europe had been covered in this dark dust, and only North America remained for the conquering. Monat had decided to start from the West coast and continue East until she had destroyed the fledgling remains of human civilization. So far, no one had been able to stop her, and the Dust had told her that soon she would be victorious. Monat giggled to herself and spoke a few words that only a tree could understand, like bark tearing and then rejoining itself.

She pointed to the horizon and whispered to her husband a soft command, “Tomorrow, we will stamp out the last of humanity. Tomorrow, nature will finally begin to restore this world to what it was. Tomorrow, you will kill the man’s son and his friend, Tayama, but not before I sacrifice them to the Dust. You will do this for me.” Quietly, the Dust gathered into a single point again and then vanished. It flew in a bee-line to the east, the Dust gathering into an arrow of decaying pestilence as it did, aimed at the heart of humanity’s last resistance. The Dust would finally take the world for itself, and turn the last vestiges of humanity into fuel for the next generation’s growth. Nature would succeed, and the Dust was too glad to oblige.

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[Same day, July 7 2036]

Days had past since Arraz and Tayama had slept, but they knew they must be close to Alpha command when they passed the sign-post for private property. This new world didn’t have any property to own, and the sign was a message for the old-worlders, those that had been around, before the plants awoke. Back when metal could be bent into shape and inks could be squeezed from the tubers of precious plants, back when resources were plentiful, did these signposts dot the land. Now, the post was rusted and creaking on its hinge, its figure like the crumpled form of Ezekiel as it lay. Wordlessly, the two soldiers passed the sign. They knew that their journey was over, and silently they began to ready their minds for debriefing Alpha Command’s general. They hadn’t seen the General in two months, since they had embarked on scouting the south and had set up their outpost in the sand out there. He would be pleased with their news, if a little regretful of the lives lost to complete such a precious mission. Arraz still mused over his father’s death days ago, intent on resting before the next skirmish.

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The General hoped that the frontier was still dead, although under normal circumstances he would be alright with it budding with life. He hadn’t eaten fruit or vegetables in months, ever since the Great Mold, and his pale skin was beginning to show malnutrition from the small amount of rations he had left for his company and himself. Soon, they would run out of food and begin to fight over the remaining rations, killing each other in the process. They would be doing Monat’s work for her, and worse, they would make it even easier for her to finish the remaining survivors. The General knew this, and felt the desperation of his plight, somehow feeling responsible for all that had happened.

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As Arraz crossed the camp’s threshold, his Neocortex buzzed an identification to prevent the security field from scrambling his brain. The perimeter had been set up with an electromagnetic field of such strength, that the air itself was purified as it blew through the compound. Tayama shared a knowing glance with Arraz, his Neocortex buzzing also as he entered by his side. They had walked into this compound a hundred times before, but never with such heavy shoulders and weighted minds. They had lost much in the way of friends and compatriots, and were at the edge of sanity. They couldn’t stand to lose any more family or hope, for they had lost enough already.

The soldiers standing guard outside the General’s Office nodded gently towards Arraz and Tayama as they approached, hands rummaging in their packs for the weary travelers. The guards could tell how tired and hungry the travelers were, and they had built a good relationship with the two warriors through months of diligent service. No one stood against Arraz when he was angry, and no one against Tayama when calm. The whole company knew this, and silently, the word of their arrival passed through camp. The Neocortex of every soldier began buzzing within their minds, telling them of the travellers’ mental states as well as their physical ones. Almost everyone was at the point of breaking, but no one showed it. They couldn’t let their fellows know their weakness, but everyone knew that if this war wasn’t won soon, all would be lost. The General himself acknowledged this as Arraz and Tayama briskly entered his office, nodding at them as they began their debrief.

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[Dawn, next day of Earth 2036]

In the growing light of the new day, the sun lit up fading dust clouds that cloyed to ground, sweeping the ground before their onslaught. Great waves of flaky dust covered everything in passing, leaving a sinister trail in its wake. Monat stood and embraced the dry flood as it hit her, lifting her verdant form into the ashen air. Ecstasy echoed through her body as the dust turned dark blue, covering the sun with its wings. Monat screamed in delight as the dust wrapped around her delicate form, folding into her arms and seeping into her chest. She moaned with the power and bellowed an unearthly challenge as her arms swept up the great dust column before her. The dust began to shake and vibrate, turning a lime green as it crescendoed with the rise and fall of her hands. Monat then flew with the Dust, into the stratosphere, singing a terrible song of decay as she rose. The dust changed from a bright green to a darker hue, and then to a solid black as it caressed Monat’s form, then finally covered her entirely.

Mother Nature looked resplendent in her cosmic dress of blacks, studded with the soft light of individual stars. In the darkness of her cloak, the Dust resided and thrived, combining with her natural form. Together, the two of them were a frightful being of organic composition. On one side, calm and serene. On the other, chaotic and infectious. Neither had complete power over the other, yet they knew they must give all in order to survive. As the day turned to a black night around the earth, Monat’s starry form was the last light to shine. Below, the East coast of America was about to feel the last wrath of nature herself. Humanity would burn, as nature had done for its entirety, and nothing could stop it.

Monat gathered the blackness around her and focused it on a single finger-tip. She slowly moved her arm downwards, continuing her deadly song of decay as she did so. The black sphere at the end of her finger then grew steadily until it was a large ball of deathly influence, swirling a darker than night black as it did. Below, the last vestige of humanity gathered in the paranormal eclipse and watched as the black ball of decay descended from the heavens. When the ball entered the atmosphere, it fell as a singular mass for the southeastern coast of North America, consuming the very air as it did. Nothing could escape its grasp, and Monat could all but help from dying from ecstasy herself as she watched the death ball’s descent.

At once, a bright beam of yellow light formed on the planet’s surface below. The beam shortened and then turned inwards on itself, refocusing until it became a blue fire sprung for the heavens. Monat had only a second to collect her dazed form before the beam struck her arm, cleanly cutting and burning the entirety of her left torso. She gasped out of shock, losing control over her black mantle, and began to fall towards earth from her celestial watchpost. Another yellow-blue beam sprang from the planet below and destroyed the black ball this time, restoring the sun’s bright light once again. Monat roared a fury unlike anything heard before, and pointed her unburnt right arm towards the spot where the blue fire had sprung, North America. She fell towards Earth with a white rage in her eyes, and a rasping Black Dust cloying to her side.

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[Day Previous, July 7 2036]

The General sat patiently, as the last of his Recon Squads debriefed him on their mission over the past week or so. Tayama stood at attention while Corporal Arraz explained the distances that the Dust had traveled recently. Even more, Arraz went on to explain that some days previous, Monat had visited Base Command in the South. He could all but help from shedding a tear as he explained the death of Ezekiel, his father and Commander. The General stood up slowly as the tale wove to an end, and had only one question to ask, “Did the Dust really incinerate when you shot that Base down?”

Tayama jumped immediately and replied, “Yes sir, we detected no other life forms inside after 2 plasma shots.” The General smiled slightly at this, but a vein of concern still led along his temples. The new plasma ammo they had started using was very useful, albeit easily spent. Previous experiments with plasma ammunition had resulted in jamming, explosive accidents or just not mixing to the right temperature. The new cartridges were self-mixing, and super condensing inside to allow for the plasma to warm up first and not cloy to the edges of its housing.

General Donson dismissed Arraz and Tayama to the Armorer for inspection and to eat a hot meal, though he had only field rations to offer. He had much to think about, and the responsibility of his latest weapon was working his mind in circles. The plasma cannon they had been developing in Field Research at Alpha Command had surpassed all previous attempts at utilizing plasma bolts. Normal plasma rifles used a small amount of super-heated, super-condensed plasma. This new cannon could fire a steady volley of plasma in a concentrated beam of pure fire, or rather, the heat of the sun on its surface. The General had waited for news of Monat’s most recent sighting, and quickly left after the soldiers to personally aim the cannon for the coming dawn. General Donson knew Monat would come, she never left any of her overlords alive. Rather, Monat preferred to integrate human synaptic lines and neurochemistry into her own, effectively turning a person into whatever she wanted. Through the sheer force of Nanoatomic restructuring, she could remake anyone, into anything. The General knew that Monat was running out of real resources, and couldn’t live off pure photosynthesis alone, she would eventually have to feed. She was like a vampiric moth, drawn to the light and eager to have its energy.

As the General approached the BioWeapons building, he gave a firm nod to the guards outside and thumbed his badge for their Neocortex to analyze. A moment later, he was inside and defragging the trajectory system of his new plasma cannon. Donson couldn’t help but grin at the thought of finally ending this war, and smiled even more when the Sighting of the cannon pinged a full readiness rate. The General walked over to the housing near the Cannon’s base and flicked on the Portal Array. The Cannon began to hum steadily, like a chorus of heat, and then grew in color from a soft yellow to a sapphire blue. The General adjusted the Portal Array for the first firing of his Plasma Cannon, and prepared to send out a concentrated beam of hellfire. His Sighting began to tick with the entrance of a darker-than-night Being in the sky, some ten miles off. The General sent out a short-wave message to his troops, “Time for action, shut down all facilities and ready for standby.”

At once, the entire Alpha Command bowed their heads for the oncoming battle. Perhaps they would live through this last fight and see the light of day once more. No one in the barracks or main office dared to move, and a few had sent wordless commands to shutdown the area. Their Neocortexes buzzed as one, the unity of their effort reflected in the eyes of every remaining soldier as they bowed forward. Hands on Plasma rifles, fingers pressed the ignition charges and warmed up their Plasma cartridges for action. In a moment, the plasma could rain and freedom would finally arrive with the death of Monat herself.

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Twenty miles away from the Alpha Command compound, Monat drifted. She was contemplating the demise of her human foes. This was the closest she had been to wiping out any hope of resistance, for all time. Soon, the earth itself would rejuvenate, if all went according to plan. Ol’ Ben Dusty draped around Monat’s hardened earthen form, covering every semblance of natural growth on her thin and wispish body. The Dust hummed in conjunction with Monat’s flirtatious embrace, the two resounding a low vibration across the land. Ten miles off, Dusty reminded Monat of their proximity and warned her to venture past a dune to their East. Monat, girded in the dark dust, merely flicked her finger at him and ordered a dark command. Protect, defend. The same pheromones that had been sent out 370 days from this day, were to speak their last. No living thing would survive what was to come next.

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General Donson grimaced as the his aperture sight on the plasma cannon began to whine, then shutter off completely. His usually calm demeanor, bespoken of military discipline and confidence, was beginning to waver. As his palms grew sweaty and adrenaline began to creep into his bloodstream, his Neocortex buzzed a soft reminder of the General’s position. No doubt that flying being, some ten miles off, would have seen the blueish-green glow fade in the cannon. The General’s dark mood lifted, as he noticed that the sight aperture whined a meager 50% readiness. If Donson fired the cannon now, he could very likely miss by a mile or more on the Dark target. Donson had no doubt as to what that Being could be, not even the Screamers could fly and no Dust had collected like it did that far off. Donson didn’t believe in coincidence, and just as he was musing over these brief moments in anticipation of battle, the Dark Being disappeared. His sight aperture whined to a 75%, and then completely deaded out with nothing more than a whisper.

“She’s got into our electrical grid!” Donson yelled through a short-wave message to his compatriots, while his Neocortex sent a distress signal to the guards outside. The General was going to have to find an alternate energy source for the plasma cannon, when it hit him. If he found a way to use some of the extra plasma cartridges to power the sighting, Donson could manually move the cannon into place while it restarted. He would need all the manpower he could get, and his two closest Commandos began to assist him without a word. When you worked with such driven and confident men, a shared communication developed quickly beyond that of technology or speech. This special relationship was cared for by the General, he was proud of his men. Prouder still with their work on moving the cannon, he couldn’t help but curse to himself that some of these fine men would die on this day. What better day to die, than the one you waited for to come.

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Monat giggled to herself, “this will be all too easy, easy peasy as you humans would say”. Dusty was out of earshot, but could hear her lilting laugh as he dove like a dark falcon on his target, the Alpha Command. He had no idea in his human days, that this very place had spied on him while he conducted his plant experiments. Little even did he know, that the very man who saw him when he first transformed, was in this base in the middle of the desert. Dusty was mad with the Defense pheromone, and sought out any electromagnetic vibration in the air as he closed in on the compound. His ash-colored form rolled itself into a thinner stream of dark desire still, and he drove his spear-shaped decadence right into a transformer box near the main camp’s armory. The wireless electrical receivers began to shut down as their main generator began to fall, and then shutter still. Dusty had done his work, now to extricate any energy from the organic things around. He could sense their thoughts, he could read their Neocortex and hear their bodies as neurons fired electrical impulses. He returned to Monat quickly outside the compound and held her softly. Somewhere within the cacophony of electronic brass, the most minute of sounds emanated in the compound, a strange whirring hum, like wind passing through trees. Before Dusty could magnify the frequency, his senses began to darken and for once in a very long time, he slept. His sleeping form was thrown to the wind as an explosion fell out, separating him from Monat for the last time.

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“All right, power’s been cut, but at least the plasma is warming up and we’re almost good to go.” Tayama motioned to the plasma receiver he held as he said this, having just ran from the Barracks to the Plasma Cannon’s housing. He was still catching his breath slightly, but was following standard procedure in case of electromagnetic attack, to shut down any remaining computers and begin constructing localized electric generators. He was using his Neocortex as a command console for the plasma cannon’s housing, connecting wirelessly into the feed and sending start signals for the machine. While he was restarting the cannon, Donson was preparing his weapon of last resort, a small atomic device. Not since the days of the last World War had anyone on Earth really needed to end a war, not like the way an atomic weapon did. Few of these weapons existed now, fewer still were in working order after the first Earthquakes began one year ago. Donson remembered the earthquakes and their destabilizing effect on society as they spread worldwide. He hugged the atom-bomb to his chest, unafraid of the radiation contained within the lead-xenon plating, as he silently thanked some lost soul for retrieving this weapon and kicked himself simultaneously for thinking he started it all. He had been there when the first plants awoke, and he had thought about shutting the whole operation down at the beginning. He even felt bad for that poor nerd who died from his experiments, alone and unremembered. Donson held back a tear, and his Neocortex responded with a low-hum of acceptance. The limited AI held in the chip understood the pangs of human regret, and recoiled.

As Tayama was finishing the startup and diagnostic systems for the plasma cannon, he began to disconnect his active signals and set his Neocortex to take over the operation while he moved over to Donson. Stridently he crossed the room, his eyes on the guards defending the inside door, nodding a curt recognition to his warrior brothers. Tayama surprised Donson as he moved upon him, noticing that Donson had been hugging the A-bomb for a little too long now. The device almost slipped from his hands as he jumped, seemingly caught up in his thoughts when Tayama approached, “Sir, I wanted you to know the device is all set. We’re ready to shoot Monat down, and end this.”

Donson agreed, his head bobbing up and down, but his body stayed the same as before, almost a standing-fetal position. The regret was finally tearing into him, turning the General into a desperate and frightened man. A man who felt that all the lives lost lay on his shoulders, even if he believed (at times) that he was just taking orders. Just ending his conscious control of himself. His Neocortex did most of the every-day observation and connection between him and his Commandos, while he merely input commands when needed. Donson felt, now more than ever, disconnected from himself and his humanity.

“Sir? What’s going on?” Tayama had been standing and watching this depraved General, with his empty eyes. The whole moment lasted about five seconds, before Donson seemed to look-up, and without a word walked over to the cannon. As he closed in on the cannon itself, he began to take out the already-warm plasma cartridge at its base, and loaded in the device he was carrying. “Sir, that’s not where that goes. General, please, what is going on?” Tayama incessantly implored Donson as he moved in his stupor, unaware of his actions. The memories of his closest family, dying, washed over him as he remembered leaving the Earthquakes behind for solid land.

With a blank stare, he almost closed the housing to the cannon before Tayama stepped in and guided his hand to the cartridge and switched it instead. The General didn’t seem to notice as he stood there, hugging the plasma cannon and staring into blank space. Tayama buzzed a quick warning to the guards that the radioactive device needed to be set off, and as close to Monat as possible. He had no idea why the General was as mute and deplorable as he was, but knew that now was not the time for men to falter. Now, men could not doubt themselves and fall before the battle begun. Tayama readied the cannon for firing as he resighted on Monat in the distance, motioning for the guards to safeguard the discarded device in the process.

While Tayama prepared, the guards took the Atomic device on the floor and quickly went outside, keeping distance from the General as they did. They nodded as they left, closing the door and sending a brief message to secure the door as they did. Their Neocortex chips sang in unison as the door barred itself shut, and placed an encrypted mechanism on the lock. No one but the General and Tayama could get out. Not even Arraz, Tayama’s closest confidant. The silent warriors moved in position as they contemplated their last moments together, mindful of their duty and obligation to save the lives of their friends. If that meant sacrificing their own lives, then what they were about to do would likely qualify. As they both thumbed the encryption lock on the device, their Neocortex chips completed the key and opened the device from within.

Silently, a soft blue glow began to emanate from the atomic device as the guards mounted it in the middle of the Alpha Command compound. They stepped away briefly as the device began to hold its color and then to shift to a indigo purple, and then to a crimson red. A soft whirring-hum came from the device as it completed its atomic solution and the device began it’s final revolution. In five seconds, these two warriors would be brain-dead and Monat would likely be too.

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The red-orange explosion of atomic particles lit up the dark desert night of middle North America. The sky glared like a bright moon-lit night, as deadly molecules sang through the atmosphere and fell upon the last remnants of organic life on Earth. Below, the atomic device lay in tatters as the Alpha Command base burned. Not ten seconds before, Tayama had sighted Monat flying in for the kill, knowing her arrogance would be her downfall. He had sighted his cannon and fired twice, once to destroy whatever magic Monat had been weaving seconds before and the other time to wound her in the side with devastating heat. The plasma had singed her nearly in two, but what remained of her form was pure fury, as only the wrath of a woman made out of nature would know. Tayama mulled over these last few seconds as he gazed through the plasma cannon’s sightings and screamed at the General to get another plasma cartridge. He had but a second or two to respond, but the General was curled in a ball now on the floor, shaking and crying to himself. Tayama’s imploring commands fell on deaf ears as General Donson began to slowly lose his mind, after years and years of denying to himself the truth. “I would give everything just to be at home and drinking a cool root-beer…” Tayama thought to himself as the heat of the cannon drew beads of sweat from his brow. Just a year ago, he had been almost-carefree and eager to take on the world. Now he was ending all hope of it ever recovering, he knew no one would live past this day. The atomic device outside would make sure of that, in case the cannon didn’t kill Monat out instantly.

Monat’s furious form, covered in the dark dust again, drew almost to the head of the cannon before the radioactive device in the compound went off. Simultaneously, the Neocortex of every soldier remaining of the human resistance shut itself off and the brains of those it once relied upon grew silent. The area around the compound, and for miles off, was superheated by a radioactive wave as the device brought a star’s flame through the desert. Vaporizing the remaining human resistance and Monat’s dusty form with it, this nuclear device had ended the war once and for all. The desert turned to glass in the North American frontier, as the rest of the world grew dark in the coming days of New Earth. On the continents below, nothing moved - save the dying dust as it swept throughout the land, absorbing the radioactive particles as it went. The Dust was truly dead, having no Queen to control it and decide its fate. What remained of Monat was blowing over the dead lands of New Earth, but somewhere in its caves and caverns life began to bloom once more. The decaying dust, rich in nutrients itself, began to seep back into the ground and fertilize the radioactive land. Life would begin again here, albeit slowly. Millions of years could pass before life would evolve again, this was Monat’s true goal, but no sentient being was alive to see it. No sentient being save for the Enlightened One, gazing from his Tropical Heaven a few galaxies away from Earth.

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[July 7, 2036. Last day of New Earth]

The presence of thought and electromagnetic chatter had ceased, for the first time on Earth, in millenia. The Enlightened Monk felt the mental energy sucked out with the departure of any remaining consciousness on Earth, leaving a conscious vacuum in its wake. For few times in his existence, this godlike Monk had presided over the collapses of entire worlds and cosmic systems. Each loss was a deep sorrow, weighing on him like a hundred black holes. As quickly as his contemplation darkened, did it rise again with the growth of new life down on that small blue ball. The Monk knew that life would restart again, over millions of years, but something was different than all the other times that sentient existence had ended there. This was a loss beyond words, beyond even the powers of a god to recreate, for its detail and minuteness were truly unique. Perhaps he could fix this, and the Monk’s mood rose like a newfound sun as he contemplated a galactic plan. If he spent his remaining life force, the vast loss within would turn.

This was his universe, but he did not own it. This was his existence, but it didn’t have to go on forever. He was responsible for life, responsible for his enlightened brothers and their happiness also. He could save them, but first he would have to give all of himself. Silently, he sat levitated above his paradise in full-lotus position, meditating for a few moments. As quickly as he had begun the measured breathing and concentration, did his focus end and the Monk rose. His normally brown-colored eyes were now lit with a cosmic light, like a nebula soaked in plasma flame. His entire being began to fade as his eyes grew in intensity, and finally, he existed as a point of bright light. If his other Enlightened brothers were around, not even they could gaze upon him without being blinded for all time. The Monk wished himself away, moving himself through space and time as he did. To any other being gazing upon this event, it was as if he had never existed, for he had given himself so that others could.

The Monk’s sacrifice was not unnoticed by the shadow his own light had cast, for his very presence enlightened whatever it touched. As his light faded, the shadow died with it, but not before it could utter a faint command. Protect, defend. With it’s falling into nothingness, the dark shadow seemed to circle and then fall apart. The shadow had followed the light through time itself, intent on maintaining an unnoticed pursuit through the cosmic fabric of space. Like a baby bird, it wanted the care and warmth of its enlightened parent and sought out the Light as it passed eras of human civilization. The pyramids of Egypt, bright and covered with gold attracted both human and nonhuman eyes to it. Almost 5,000 years had been travelled, while only a moment passed for the Light-Monk and its Shadow as they flew through the web of time. To any human watching the heavens, a bright light like a second sun would have flashed and then disappeared as it passed the pyramids, shadow in tow.

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Part II: (Monat) For All Time

 

Heavy-hooded eyes stared from beneath a monk’s habit, cream-colored and shining with a glistening cloak. His lips moved in rhythmic mantras, a silent prayer accompanied by circular hand movements. To any observer, this white monk would have been perceived as a madman, talking to himself and flailing, but a keen eye revealed a small glint in his eyes. Brown pupils were eclipsed with a bright sheen, like sunset on a great ocean. None of the passing villagers gave the frantic man any attention, and to all but one being, he was imperceptible. The light cast from his golden gaze held the otherworldly Shadow Being in a soft cell, in which it was not able to escape or wither away. It was perfectly content in the home of a godly being, learning and observing every small thing it did.

The monk ceased his chanting, rose, and began to draw a few lines in the dirt around him. Interconnecting symbols revealed fractal geometry, and the lines themselves soon curled in on themselves and began shifting. Under the Monk’s golden stare, the lines bulged like a thousand intertwined snakes, then swam and overlapped until a mosaic was revealed in its place. The lines connected into a rugged, but beautiful, pastoral scene depicting the raging winds and a dust devil on the horizon. As the monk finished his work of art, and possibly god-magic, the Shadow leapt onto the mosaic and began to blend in with the dark background of the piece. The monk spoke aloud for the first time during the entire ritual, emphasizing each word with a circular motion, “Come little one, find your place in time- teach others how to survive what is to come.”

 The mosaic began to melt on the desert floor, sandstone tiles mixing with rainbow-hued lines; the entire masterpiece had begun to sink into the ground, taking a rust color as it began to gather into a small pool before disappearing in the arid desert air. The monk wiped a small tear from his face as he left, taking off his cloak in one hand and pulling his habit with the other. Thoroughly naked and enjoying the hot dry air blowing by, the Monk tossed his attire into the air and began to shudder in the moonlight. His being began to crack, and his corporeal form melted into the same red-rust color as the mosaic before. From the muddy slew there arose a small bright crystal, imbued with the light of a thousand stars. This small yellow gem sparkled evenly in the moonlit night, and seemed to catch any light within it. This most beautiful of gems levitated in the crisp wind blowing by, then shattered and followed the gust to the horizon. No villager had noticed the entire scene, but for one man, and his fierce demeanor. Complete with balled-up hands, he bespoke his rage, and the Stranger pulled his hood back. One arm surveyed the air with an outstretched hand, while a furious look still reflected in his face. Arraz had come.

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[5000 years later, July 7, 2036. Last day of New Earth]'

 

The bunk creaked as the soldier’s weary and wispish form hit the mattress, his Neocortex humming a low vibe. His mind had barely enough time to register his surroundings in the barracks before it hit him. The meal he had just ate had barely enough time to settle, before it thumped up and down his chest. Arraz gasped for air as the light in the room dimmed and some of his fellow comrades raced to pick up his flailing body. One warrior began to scan Arraz’s mind for any clue as to his worsening condition, but no one knew why the young warrior was losing life so quickly. In a matter of moments, Arraz fell still and his breathing ceased. From his open mouth came a blueish-brown smoke, it settled above his body and coalesced into a condensed smoke ball as it washed over Arraz’ still form. The soldiers began to run outside before an explosion rocked the barracks housing and the door, just opened, melted in an atomic heat. The blue ball of Arraz’s essence began to vibrate and whine in an ever-increasing frequency as the nuclear heat got closer to it, millisecond by millisecond.

The blue orb condensed even further into itself, until it became a pea-sized replica of an ocean world. The radioactive blast had almost hit it, and consumed the entire compound, before the sapphire orb finished it’s reverberations. The frequency shook the earth as a blue mist pushed the nuclear heat back, capturing each atomic molecule in a heavy smog. The explosion had already reduced all life in the compound to ashes, which the blue fog began to gather as it spread its whispering influence, shaking the very air around it. Soon the entire blast site was smoking, but no longer a black smog. An aqua blue cloud hung over the cracking glass as the desert smoked from the dying heat of the nuclear device. In the cool night air, the wind began to draw the dense sapphire cloud, and bits of cracked desert glass with it until the entire area was cleaned. Nothing existed of Alpha Command except a small smoking crater, now swept and bereft of life. The blue cloud had long been whisked away to the horizon, and the new day was arriving soon. The new world of Earth was so quiet, but not for long. Thousands of lightyears into the night sky, a new star formed in the blanket of the cosmic fabric, a bright blue-light it’s only guide in the darkness of space.

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[5000 years previous, Egypt]

Arraz reappeared near the pyramids of Egypt and walked to the spot where, just previously, he had seen a white-robed monk disrobe then completely disappear in a flash of light. The knuckles of his tan-colored hands shone white in the moonlight, the same color as the star-gem that had broken apart seconds ago. In Arraz’ eye he could still see the blue-beam of brightness from the gem as he watched its destruction; the fragments of its decay still kept his gaze on the horizon, wary of their presence. Arraz knew how the Monk had traveled, but knew not where. This was his journey alone, no mortal or immortal being to save him. The rage that Arraz had known all his life began to slowly fade as his present situation grew more solitary. He understood what his purpose was, and no longer strove with passion for answers. He had changed, and his brown eyes were the first to go, they were now a sky blue color that moved.

The answer had always been within him, he realized, and before Arraz noticed, his focus had drifted to his breathing. Arraz had changed much since his death, and the reincarnation after had made him feel alien to his own body. Slow, deep breaths brought Arraz closer and closer to himself, until the present moment began to fade and crumble in his eyesight. He closed his eyes as he withdrew into his own space, willing his being to travel within an atom. This was a trick he had learned before dying once, he remembered, but couldn’t recall where it was he was once from. The wanderlust drove him, like a whip through the night, as his Orb-form began to levitate, and then float with the wind. Arraz became a sapphire cloud, gathering the climbing gusts of desert valleys, and as he did, threw himself through space and time.

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[5000 years later, Day Zero of Earth 2035]

A sharp crack announced an arrival as Arraz appeared behind a tall, brown-haired youth drinking from a bubbling glass of dark liquid. The youth turned around, mouth agape, and let fall the newspaper he had been reading as he rose. The article read, “Bioprogrammers Invoke Nature’s Cybernetic Revolution”, as the papers shifted in the gust of wind that came with Arraz’ presence in the air. The young Tayama didn’t utter a word the entire time, but didn’t move either, as Arraz settled onto the chair opposite him and gazed deep into his eyes with the gathering stillness. Forgotten newspaper articles blew up around his presence and seemed to cloy to his sides, falling at times and then clinging again to his form as Arraz motioned for Tayama to sit.

“Please, sit and hear what it is to come. I will train you to fight the battles on our horizon.” Arraz began, sitting upright as he told the tale of his travel through the current of space and time. “I will die about a year from today, but it will not be a true death. I will leave my corporeal body, this shell of human, and become something different. I cannot tell you what is to come, for that you already know. I have come here for one purpose, to train you to fight the gathering darkness. You were once my lieutenant, and a dear friend, much have I reflected on in the past 5000 years. Please, come with me, there is much to learn.” He gestured for his friend to follow him inside and begin meditation at once, starting before Tayama had a moment to act.

----

Over the next three days, Tayama found himself sore and tired from the constant meditative postures that Arraz had put him in. Each one proved to be more exhausting than the last, and before long, he was shaking with complete fatigue. As his muscles screamed for release, Arraz motioned for him to end the last pose in a headstand. Tayama rolled forward and delicately raised his lower back and legs in line with his upside-down shoulders and held his arms bent as he waved back and forth. Arraz, tired of having to instruct Tayama constantly over the past several days, breathed heavily as he copied Tayama’s form. Arraz had been preparing mightily while Tayama slept the previous few days, and was much more fatigued than usual. After a few agonizing seconds crept by, Arraz motioned with his legs for Tayama to fall onto his back and rest. Like a flat board, Tayama’s body began to fall forward and then suddenly rolled into a ball as he collected himself in a huff. He was beginning to master the dexterity of his own body, and more than that, was learning military tactics from a rugged desert warrior.

The two new friends began to drink water and tear into a forest salad, prepared by Arraz the day before. The only sound between them was the chewing and swallowing of their common meals. Tayama ate more slowly than before, and measured each bite as if he had planned the entire digestion beforehand. Arraz noticed his lagging speed without a sound, hoping that Tayama could keep up with the old warrior as they prepared at dire speeds to save the world from itself. In two days, the earthquakes would begin, as they had before, and the old world could come crashing to its knees before being swallowed by the earth. Mother Nature would rise over all of man and begin a year that would be written in the cosmos. The only difference, this time, was that Tayama would be prepared for the onslaught. Arraz was going to take him into the heart of battle. very soon. Less than 48 hours remained before Monat would rise and the world would fall, but the human resistance would survive. The earthquakes may not even come, if they were quick. Arraz would make sure of that. They put away their food and fell back into a meditative posture for the last time in many days, newly installed Neocortex still buzzing. They both fell into a good sitting posture before breathing slowly and after several breaths, they were both asleep.

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[Next day, Day Four of New Earth- July 5 2035]

“You create your own world, your own reality. If you are willful enough, you can move through realities different than our own. You must abandon your ego, your attachment. Join me.” A white-robed monk gestured for his bright-eyed class of young students to sit around him, hands on laps and legs folded. The entire group began to breathe slowly, focusing themselves, until the Monk clapped abruptly in the void of silence. “Do not let your focus wander, nor let the power invade from the thoughts you ponder.” Constant practice and this class will be a disciplined group of Buddhas, the Monk thought to himself. Before the group of students could open their eyes, the Monk had blinked out of existence, leaving them in confusion when they realized his departure some ten minutes later. One or two students understood, and were aware of their ignorance as they continued meditating while the other classmates gossiped like fishwives.

---

A loud groan rent the air as a wall of wind fell through the night, brushing Tayama’s long brown hair into the summer heat. Before he could speak, a bright light appeared in front of him. The moment Arraz had waited for had come, the arrival of the Enlightened One. Arraz had prepared Tayama for this moment, promising him of the ominous visit only the day before, while they had been training in tactics. As the white-robed monk appeared, then levitated down to the patio, his face lit up a smile of recognition as he saw the knowing eyes of Arraz. Their brown hue held a cloud of blue.

“You will have many questions I am sure, but know this, there is not much to tell. You know what you are, and what I have done to you can never be reversed. The sacrifice of two is necessary to save the conscious mind of an entire planet. You may protest, but this decision has already cost me most of my remaining life. I have but a few of your Earth-seconds before I must go, time is ripping me away. Ask.” The monk beckoned Tayama to come forward, but all Tayama could say is, “Why?” Before he could speak further, his eyes rolled into the back of his head. His mind flew from his body as Tayama explored the vastness of galaxies beyond. In a matter of seconds, he had returned, and with the wisdom of centuries that the Travelling brought. His youthful appearance seemed somewhat greyed as Tayama stood there, then hugged the white-robed Monk, thanking him silently for the knowledge. The two beings, one taller and the other slightly shorter, stood there for a moment before the Monk returned the embrace and then fell away into the gusts of wind still blowing around. Arraz had been motionless throughout the silent exchange of realizations, and stared hard at the Monk as he began to fly away.

The wind carried him as before, but his Divine Being flashed a darker yellow as he fell from view down to Earth. Tayama and Arraz moved instinctively, but before they could, a dark cloud drafted in front of them and formed itself into a dark humanoid. “I know what it is you are trying to do, and you will not succeed. “ The darkness rasped in a haunting tone, voice echoing with a thousand other voices. The Dark Being smiled as he then fell down towards the Enlightened Monk. His dark being screamed by with a thousand cries, then wrapped itself up in the yellow orb; it then snuffed out the orb with a cackle and left. Up above, Tayama and Arraz watched as their dear friend was consumed and then moved to leave the apartment, their mission in peril.

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[Day Five of New Earth, July 6 2035]

 

Tayama went over the Monk’s revelations as he traveled with Arraz. They moved on dark city streets for the headquarters of MIB, situated in the middle of downtown Boston. Their mission was to infiltrate the compound and find information on Monat’s resurrected army. The many plants in that troop could be no more than 10,000 in count, but still very clever and quick to pheromone attack. Arraz walked with silent confidence by Tayama’s side, as he had done in his own lifetime, while the blueness in his eyes began to swirl and enliven. Tayama was too caught up in their mission, to notice the slight change in his companion, as they stealthily crept along backways to the MIB. The Massachusetts Institute of Biotechnology was a fairly quaint and earthy building, supported by reinforced steel that had been mixed with a form of “smart” concrete. This outer layer of protection was not only resistant to explosive elements, but could adapt to any damage sustained to the building so that the MIB was a virtual fortress. Plain looking from the outside, one would be a fool to attack that intellectual bastion.

Arraz had planned out the mission on the move, a few moments after the Monk had been consumed. They were to pose as student and professor for the school, try to find the security office inside, then begin to find information on not only Mother Nature’s army, but the MIB itself. From there they would launch a coordinated attack, with their recently updated Neocortex chips, and begin to destroy Monat before she could gather momentum. If their mission failed, then they would have to watch the world destroy itself all over again, and Tayama didn’t need to be reminded of that again. Arraz had made him memorize the entire plan, and any contingency as well. Seconds from approaching the school, their Neocortex sent out a high frequency particle beam right into the foreheads of the two nearest guards. Their heads, held still by the energetic beam, shook with the force, but held firm. Arraz and Tayama walked by them, coded an entry for the Institute, then entered with all the brevity of someone focused on victory. The guards fell forward as they left, the particle beam no longer overloading their synapses from Arraz’ chip. They would have no memory of this event, and hours left to live.

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[Same day, same universe]

The light awoke in a void of pure emptiness- it was alone in endless space. With a grunt, it began to focus and change shape. It failed and began again, but the Light was losing control over its form. Scree! Whining along at a breathless speed, the small mote of Light attempted to travel  again- using its own singularity as a slingshot. It burned some life essence, making a flash erupt, and amplified the Light momentarily, before falling still. This would not work, it was confined here in every way possible. The Light, still devoid of control over its shape, started thinking in the impossible. Eons of living as the Monk had not prepared him for life-after-death, but his millennia of meditating helped him refocus. He had a cosmic-logic kind of mind, and secretly knew of his origins, for this had been his home once. His life force chirped at the irony of starting, and then returning to, in a place where time didn’t exist. If his creator could see him, it would be as if he had left and returned in a huff, still pinging around in that vast space- begging to explore the universe.

In all time and no time, a vast blue Being began to fill the black void with its cloudy essence. As it arrived, the inky blackness of the void began to swirl and eddy, like a convoluted stream clearing once more. It was impossible to measure the time it took for this Blue God to arrive, but his entrance gave the Light mote a rush of life, and inspired him to attempt at shifting again. “ALL IS STILL, DO NOT RUSH.” The Blue Being thundered into the blue sky of its existence, the sound came from everywhere and nowhere, and no mouth could be seen echoing the words. The Light mote held position in the blue ocean of existence and made no sound to interrupt its Creator. “WE HAVE CALLED YOU HERE, THE SHADOW ARE WE.” Spoken in timeless finality, a last clue to the Light’s death was made apparent in the azure air. To any normal being, communicating outside of time would be useless, for there were no points of reference at the edge of reality. Verbs had no context, coming and going held the same points in space-time, chaos was the norm. There was no future, no past, and no present- they were all happening at the same time and yet devoid of any effect, nonexistent.

The small Light mote felt slightly puzzled by this, having restricted itself to thinking of time in linear terms for most of its existence. At these nonlinear crossroads, the Light realized its original nature and began to glow (and dim) in the blue ocean of God. “YOU KNOW, NOW. BUT WHY CONSTRAIN YOURSELF TO TIME? YOU ARE FREE, LIMITLESS AND PURE. RETURN FROM WHENCE YOU CAME, THEY ARE WAITING THERE.” The voice of a thousand gods rang in the swirling cosmic eddies, and the blue ocean of God began to swirl into itself like a gargantuan whirlpool. “WE ARE BEFORE TIME, AND YOUR EXISTENCE IS CHAOS” A booming voice rang out as the whirlpool drew back its last vestiges of oceanic froth, and then sucked out of existence, leaving the Light in the vast void once more. A quiet stillness resumed in the timid space and the Light shuddered as it fell into the depths of that black dimension, giving itself to the great unknown.

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[Evening, Day Five of New Earth, July 6 2035]

“We can’t stay stocked up in here all day, we need to move!” Tayama yelled, pounding his fist on the desk that Arraz and he had been working on all day. “We have less than a day before the quakes start, and unless we stop her, our last year of battle will begin.” Tayama was getting frantic with worry, and had been caught up in posing as a willful student to an old professor. He barely had a moment to notice Arraz, as he looked up to his face and saw his swirling pupils, before an alarm began to ring above their heads. “Priority One proximity warning, all students and faculty to shelter. I repeat, Priority Ohh--” The intercom faded out as the loudspeakers died and the school’s generators began to whine, then bursted fantastically. The explosion rocked the foundation of the closet that Arraz and Tayama had been cooped up in, and buckled part of the floor. They were stuck, with no power and running out of time.

Arraz rose from his chair, eyes tired and still swimming, to explain to Tayama what was going on. “Old friend, I’m afraid we’re under attahhh-” His sentence cut short by another explosion, this time from the school’s entrance, Arraz had barely a second to react and run for the doorway before Tayama caught him. “What are you doing? Who’s after us?” He implored Arraz for answers, but the steely old warrior’s hand threw him aside as he reached for the door. “You’re not really Arraz are you?” The question caught him off guard, and stopped him as his hand felt for the doorknob. “Nothing could ever escape your watchful eye, my friend” Arraz responded, turning and facing Tayama, shrugging his shoulders in mock defeat. As he opened his mouth to speak again, another explosion boomed closer and shook the walls until they cracked; the building was adapting but the damage still extensive. Arraz and Tayama were deafened by the BOOM and rocked by its quake, falling to their sides as the building shook. Their eyes locked on the buckling floor, then back up to each other, as a moment of realization hit Tayama. Monat is close. Arraz set me up.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[Before the universe, after the end]

In the black void, a voice could be heard across the vastness of imaginary space, “The universe is one, an endlessly self-contained organism, and we are all just facets of that creature.” The calm voice continued, gathering speed and recognition of itself as it did. “Creation, destruction. Both elements are within us and in everything, but we choose which to feed. You cannot bring destruction and expect happiness, you cannot choose creation and expect death. A time will come when you make a decision...” The voice ended its pondering in a huff, and with a wink of light, began to grow in size from the depths of the void below. It had the god-nature within it, and the Light grew until it filled that enormous space without time. “I choose creation.” Booming with bold intent, no doubt now.

The entirety of the Light’s Being stretched until it could cover no further space, and then a resounding hum shook the walls of the vast black void. The web pulled back, and the event horizon collapsed as the Light, now a Singular Fire (or Sinfi for short), spun on its axis at dizzying speeds. The singularity that was Sinfi had all but snuffed out, when he shrunk to his smallest light yet. At that moment, the enormous heat Sinfi had been generating from his vast size began to vibrate the space around him. Normal particles split with their antiparticle pairs and spun through the time, hitching Sinfi with them as they danced furtively forward. To any normal observer, Sinfi would appear to be going backwards through time- enlarging until he became a singularity, then snuffing out behind a black hole. In reality, Sinfi was moving through space- he had found an alternate way of doing so without sacrificing his life essence, like he used to while wormhole jumping. Arraz had learned that trick from him, but Arraz was different.

Reminiscing on his last moments of Earth, Sinfi shook with the knowledge of his origin as a creator, and how he may have started the destruction of that precious world with his intervention. It was against his entire being to destroy life where he went, so Sinfi travelled to the only place safe from suffering. He went back to the Enlightened One’s paradise. Suffering was a chuckle, an acknowledgement of realization passed among the serene monks there, in the waterfalled heaven. All day you could hear their laughter, and the only sound to penetrate that raucous crowd was the thunder clap that accompanied Sinfi’s return to paradise.

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[July 6, 2035 - Night at MIB]

 

Old Arraz gave the young Tayama one final look before wrenching the door open mightily, and falling forward into the Institute’s main hallway. The explosions that had been rocking the building had become eerily quiet, and the only sound coming from the Institute were the groans of injured people still trapped under rubble. Arraz heard nothing of this, for as he fell forward, his eyes met with Monat the Terrible. Her smile kept his gaze as he lay paralyzed at her feet. “You humans are such fools, playing with science beyond your grasp. Today will be the last day that your impudence causes the world pain, today is your end.” Her dark green eyes suddenly flared a crimson red, and a beam of dark purple light sprang from her fingertips. Tayama watched in pure terror as Arraz was completely vaporized in the heat of the beam, but his fear turned to rage as he realized that Arraz had died without fighting. Worse, all he had done was stare into Monat for what seemed like ages. An old warrior deserved a more glorious death, or so Arraz had taught him. As Tayama prepared himself to silently creep out of the room, Monat’s verdant form elegantly strode by- distracted by a blue cloud that had come from Arraz’s remains. The wispy sapphire smoke curled into the air and was carried away by an invisible draft, but not before rubbing against Monat and burning her barky skin. Monat screamed a pitiless wail, shaking the Institute with its power, and fell onto her thin knees. Her green skin peeled and began to fall off as the blue cloud smothered her with its milky grasp, her head and torso slowly dissolving in the blue miasma. Tayama found it in himself to stride out of his broken room and walk to Monat, the Neocortex that Arraz had given him the day before, was humming a baritone growl.

The nanochip began sending signals through Tayama, activated completely with the closeness of Monat’s shrunken form to him. Tayama felt his body shake, his hands twitching with the electric signals echoing through him. The Neocortex took a rusted color as it heated up and began to discolor Tayama’s forehead, breaking through the skin and pulsating like fresh magma. The force of complete integration shook Tayama to his core, and for the 2nd time in two days, he felt his mind fly from his body. His conscious form took an incorporeal slight, and his dark skin grew transparent like sunlight penetrating puffy white clouds. His entire existence was being dragged backwards through space, pulled by the scruff of the neck and sent through, what seemed to be, a never-ending chasm. The walls glowed different colors of visible light, but mostly shone purple and yellow as they raced by. Every now and then, Tayama heard the voice of a family-member or saw a glimpse of an event far off in the future. None of these events immediately made sense, but he felt a strange calmness sweep over him as the walls began to slow in their descent.

At once, Tayama’s form was held still in the phosphorescent cavern of space-time. His eyes, transparent and greyed, widened at the sight of Arraz’s ghastly form before him. “All is well, my friend. I have died, again, so that we may win this war. Monat has been defeated, and soon her Dust friends will perish likewise. In a matter of human-hours, the link connecting that vast organic army will be severed completely and Earth will resume its advance forward.” Tayama was held mute by all of this, stricken with the idea that he may be dead also. “Is this the...afterlife? This is, isn’t it?” Tayama’s concerned questioning drew furrows along Arraz’ brow, “Why are you concerning yourself with life, you just ended the Emissary of Death!” He reprimanded.

Confused, Tayama implored again, “But, I thought that blue vapor burned her… it covered her skin and melted it off!” His calm face now wild with the ideas of death and confusion racking him, Tayama reached out to Arraz, attempting to grab his hair, anything. “You are mistaken, my friend. When Monat destroyed my physical form, the Being that had been inhabiting my body was released. This creature is the mortal enemy of Monat, sent by a friend of ours. You may remember him, but he has changed now, evolved. They call him Sinfi for short, and to put it simply, he has a lot of friends where he is now.” As he finished explaining their last moments together, Arraz snapped his fingers at Tayama. No noise was made by the movement, but the effect was instantaneous. Tayama and Arraz were flicked back again through the endless tunnel, falling silently through the wormhole as they traveled. Tayama, eyes wide, was mute the entire time, while Arraz merely smiled in the inky blackness. The colors of the walls echoed off their transparent forms as the two compatriots were sent, for what seemed like ages, through the fabric of time and space. No random voices or images floated by as they neared the end of their journey, for the colors on the wall had began to slow their rotation and were setting like drying paint. “We are here. All will be explained now.” Arraz motioned forward, but didn’t go.

Tayama floated by him, passing through a dark shadow and appearing suddenly on a sandy beach, under a summer sun. Far off, the echoes of laughter could be heard, but the deafening noise of massive waterfalls overwhelmed Tayama as he peered at the endless expanse of water crashing. He looked behind him, but Arraz had seemingly never come through the colored wall. No matter where Tayama looked, he saw a new waterfall, the cascading purity of the liquid entrancing him. “I must be dead. This doesn’t seem real.” Tayama thought to himself, the words coming out of his mouth as he stared limply at the watery horizon.

Before he could respond, a floating Being whistled into view from one of the adjacent waterfalls. His tan skin was covered in a cream-color robe, and he seemed to be shaking as he cackled into view. His folded legs were in full-lotus position, his hands clasped at his middle, thumbs touching. His wide, smiling face covered Tayama’s view of the waterfall horizon, and his bright eyes seemed to laugh as much as his ear-to-ear grin. “My, how you have suffered! Come, drink a little and meditate with me!”

The infectious charisma of the Monk filled Tayama with confidence unbridled as he followed the floating ball of happiness onward. Although his eyes still wandered to the crystal pools that lapped at his feet, Tayama could hear the Monk giggling to himself in the distance. The warm sand at his feet grounded Tayama in this heaven of water, and as he wordlessly walked forward, he thought of Arraz as he followed the Monk to a shaded pool. “Now, time to throw off your burden! Let loose the ages of worry and anxiety, let only your breathing fill you now. You are safe here, none can hurt you.” The Monk’s smile almost fell as he spoke, then he went into a still meditation above the gurgling river. Tayama sat at the bank of a pool that had formed from the waterfall’s endless cascade. They breathed in, and then slowly out a couple times, the whispering river lulling them into a focused meditation. They sat for hours, and lost all sense of time, for the sun never set here. The water never stilled, and the distant laughter of Monks continued on. This was the end of their world, and the beginning of the next.

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[Earth 2035, Alternate Timeline]

I awoke in the water, bathed in curling streams, surrounded by rock walls. This must be birth or rebirth, and a nightmare for the newly born. Arraz awoke, knowing his own name barely, and swam to shore downstream. He did not resist the current, and accepted his fate- but the stream slowed beneath him. After several seconds, Arraz felt sand beneath his fingers and pulled at anything, sand or boulder. The warm air that bellowed from atop the cavern river gusted over Arraz, almost blowing him from his small space in the tunnel. “Damn! What kind of place is this to be found in? How did I get here? Someone answer me!” Arraz begged at the cavern walls, the echo overwhelmed by the coursing river that lapped at his feet. “This is hopeless. If I’m gonna go out, might as well meet it face on!” With some small encouragement, Arraz’ naked brown form jumped into the water and began to float downstream. Face-up, Arraz stared for hours at the tunnel ceiling, as smooth as polished marble, while he floated down the river. The warm waves that lapped at his head almost sent Arraz’ naked form to sleep. He managed to stay awake from the fear coursing through his veins, one tick from an adrenaline release that could send him into shock. He wasn’t ready for battle, but reminded himself that he must always fight to the end, more so whilst naked.

As Arraz twisted forward to get a better view, the ceiling ended suddenly in a convergence of darkness, and the river gurgled to a halt. Arraz had been entranced with a delightful form lying at the cavern’s inner shore as his head hit the sand. The taste of rough sand tore her out of his fascination, for Arraz had a mouthful to cope. The kneeling form turned as Arraz threw up loudly, the dark cloying sand sticking to his throat as he belched. Her face was as smooth as glass, and her body curled like the river. The most beautiful blue woman Arraz had ever met by far, he casually drank and spat out the rest of the sand from his mouth. Thoroughly embarrassed, his tan cheeks grew pink, and then pinker as he realized how naked he was. Taqhua, the water being, leapt into the water and twirled her snake-like form continually in a mesmerizing tango up and down the slowing stream. Arraz, forgetting himself, stared open-mouth at Taqhua’s naked form, for as it’s watery creases whipped through the water, they grew as quick as the waves’ cast. Taqhua reached forward and threw some cool dew at Arraz, mixed bluer than the darkest turquoise, and as the dark energy wrapped around him, it formed into a coarse tunic. Arraz no longer felt merely clothed, but gifted with a tunic invaluable to anything before it, his embarrassment washed away with the gift. Taqhua rolled her form back into a lapsing wave, and grew still, just riding the eddies at the stream’s end. “Do you love me?”, was all she could say. Her snake-like body twirled as she danced in the water.

“You are the most fascinating being, er woman, I have ever gazed upon. I don’t want you to think I’m not grateful, but I’m just impatient. I have to get out of here and see if Tayama is still okay. I left him back there…do you understand what I’m saying?” Arraz motioned his hands forward, palms facing Taqhua in a strange supine gesture of gratitude. She laughed so loudly that her belly-aching roar shook the cavern walls, the echo of it etching snake-like cracks along the walls as they began to tear apart. Arraz, the second-most afraid he’d been that day, almost peed himself as the walls collapsed and the entire cavern fell to dust and rocky ruin. As the boulders descended on Arraz, he grew deaf and still, staring at the river he had been reborn from, thankful for all he had ever been given. The granite faces tumbled and chipped, but reflected cleanly off Arraz as they fell onto him, leaving him perfectly untouched. He definitely peed a little as the boulders bounced off him, but understood immediately the abilities he had been gifted with after silence resumed. Wanting to know more, Arraz asked aloud into the white emptiness of the entire cavern and Taqhua’s descendance. He stared blankly into the nothingness of infinity, nearly blinded by the pure cloud-white of it all. Confused still by Taqhua and her reality-shaking roar, Arraz sat on his haunches and contemplated what he could do in infinity with his recently received rebirth. As Arraz’ mouth opened to speak, he understood the answer to his question. It was as if all knowledge ran through his mind like a current, and if he wanted, he could take a look into a moment of infinity itself. He was alive, but he had been switched just a day past. In that white nothingness, it’s hard to know how time passes, but that was Arraz’ best guess.

He remembered that his mind had been ripped from his dying body, while suffocating on his last meal back on Earth, and a Blue God had taken his last breath as a token of gratitude. Arraz had read about those mythical gods of the cosmos, but never knew that the Creator himself would come to his aid in his last moments. Arraz was stunned with the knowledge of his mind-switch, but grateful still to be alive. The blue tunic hummed a low sing-song every time Arraz felt this way, here in the white room. His easy-to-go anger had disappeared, and a great calm descended on Arraz. He didn’t feel the need to stare into time, and learn about everything concerning his friends, he merely breathed slowly and measuredly. Arraz knew the Creator would sort everything out in the end, and was assured with a higher hum from the Tunic as his thoughts grew optimistic. The humility of Arraz’ entire existence drove him to a deep meditation, and where thoughts usually arose, there was just calm. He was not distracted, but focused by his vibrancy, and felt unconcerned with knowing anything about everything. He just wanted to sit, and breathe, resting slowly at ease.

The repetition of breath focused Arraz, but not entirely before a blue orb sprung before his eyes. The dark blue dense expanded into a wide web, then swiftly drew back its skin until a Blue man appeared before Arraz. He thought it was merely a distraction from his meditation, and disregarded the blue humanoid before him, smirking. “Haha! I see you’ve met my wife, the blue spun beauty? She made something like that for me long, o eons ago..” The Blue Man felt himself fall into memory hole, consuming his entire infinite mind; the force of love was deep. Arraz did not notice as the Man winked out of existence, then reappeared again before him, whole and still cheery as ever. Arraz had finally met the ultimate distraction and still believed that his detachment, from the infinite reality of his environment, would calm him. The Blue Man grew flustered by Arraz’ complete focus on prayer, and came upon him with wild blue eyes and skin rippling with yellow waves. He appeared like Tayama, but with rippling skin and a fiendish smile.

“Do you have time to ignore me?” Before the Blue Man could continue, Arraz cut him off. “No. Time is gone now, at least mine is...and I did meet Taqhua. She was-” The Man struck the air with his wavy flow and stopped Arraz for uttering another word, for he had been the only man to ever meet her. All because of the faith of man. Arraz had seen before how his body had been possessed before he died at Alpha Command, milliseconds before nuclear fire. He noticed how it had been taken again in the Alternate 2035 Earth timeline. Arraz already knew of the blue being that had turned back the fire, and saved Earth 2036 from being dominated. It was dead, but regrowing steadily, and that future was better than Monat using the rest of humanity as energy for her Nature rituals.

The first time they had seen Monat, she was a small green girl that had been dancing, and singing, in a circle for what seemed to be minutes. Tayama had been distracted at the time, and as Arraz had tried to get him out of the Green Queen’s grasp- he got struck with the song. Plasma was their only weapon that day, and an unreliable one at that. He had thrown a grenade and distracted Monat from her childish song, breaking the spell. Everyone ran after that, shooting as wildly as fear-stricken monkeys, some dying due to the unstable plasma ammo they discharged. The Blue Man used all of this as he whispered, very delicately, “Don’t ever look at her again. That gift of hers is very much mine, but I’ll let you keep it for there is something...different about you. You were a warrior, a killer of men, and now you are just a silent monk, softer than a flower? What happened to you, man? Don’t you even care about Tayama, or what you’ve been given?” The Blue Man sighed, obviously annoyed by what seemed to be Arraz’ haughty arrogance.

He continued further about how weak he seemed, and his ultimate ignorance of anything at all about the universe. He rambled about how all the things he had created, for pleasure and imagination, not withholding any details on the formulation of modern man. All of this fell on deaf ears however, for Arraz had maintained an ear-to-ear grin of pure humility. He had bathed himself in the waters of the existence, and was clothed in its companion- nothing could push his nonexistent anger out. He was one with his purpose, to just be, and exist fearlessly so.

The Blue Man swelled in apparent rage at Arraz’ prideful smile, and grew in size until all of infinity around Arraz was tinged a sapphire blue. With a thousand voices, the Blue Man simply asked, “Who are you?” The humble monk looked slightly up from his meditation, and sighed. “I don’t know.” As he answered, Arraz’ tunic began to sparkle a cyan hue and vibrate, no longer humming, but singing a high chorus. The air began to swirl around Arraz, and lifted him from his place, floating on a small island in blue infinity.

The Blue Existence fell silent after his last tirade and Arraz’ response, flustered because he might have drank some of the Existence water, and a true gift that would be. He had been distracted by Tayama and Sinfi’s interaction and was trying to stop the White Monk from reordering time with his interference. He had wished for them all to live happily in a waterfalled heaven somewhere, and lo, they were.

Arraz opened his eyes for a few seconds high off the ground, and noticed how small the Blue God had gone in his tirade over Earth 2036. Arraz looked into his thoughts, vast and yet simple at the same time they were. He knew now what he was, and what he must do. In a flash, Arraz disappeared from the Infinity Room and found himself submerged in water again. This time, however, he could see the water crashing down under a bright summer sun. Faint sounds of laughter and birdsong rang through the air. Was this heaven?

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[Waterfall Heavens, pool in front of Main Temple]

“It is time to eat Master Tayama, why you’ve been sitting here all day! A young man like you should be swimming, running! Move!” The older Abbot berated Tayama as he knelt, for the hundredth time in a day, and meditated in front of his favorite waterfall. The rocks were chipped and revealed a clear crystal as the water crashed down upon them, but none of this distracted Tayama. He was thinking of one person only, Arraz, and his mysterious ways. He never understood why he had allowed Monat to kill him, and the last look from his shifting blue eyes still unnerved Tayama. He shrugged his shoulders to relieve the tension, and his cream-colored robe nearly fell off him- it had been ages since Tayama felt this concerned. Worried as he was over Arraz and his fate in the afterlife, Tayama couldn’t help but feel a twinge of happiness at their victory over Mother Nature herself. As he pondered further over Arraz’ fate, the older Monk suddenly slapped him on the neck and giggled like a school child, “One doesn’t refuse a gift from our Lord, even a young Master like yourself!”

As he spoke, a flash of bright light enveloped the horizon surrounding this paradise and after the blinding burst had faded, the form of a man gently floated down to the sands. Tayama, still seeing spots, held his hand up to block the sparkling lights emanating from him. As the humanoid form settled on a rock before him, it turned and seemed to absorb, rather than reflect, the light from all angles. The light turned again and took a darker hue, an even more azure tone than the water it bounced off of. Tayama, bathed in the turquoise glow, smiled, for he could make out the shape of someone familiar in the dark light. It was Arraz. “Ah, Lord Arraz, so glad that you have finally arrived!” The old Abbot, his wispy beard raising with the wind around Arraz. “Please, can we get started? Our patience is drowning in eagerness!”

Arraz rose from his sitting posture, and strode across the water, each tan foot absorbing the water and drawing it up his legs like clear worms. His tunic glowed with lighter tones as the water crept into it, and seemed to alternate between absorbing and reflecting light back around. Arraz barely noticed the flashes of color, he had locked eyes with Tayama, and for a moment, felt the waves of memory crashing on the forefront of his mind. For the second that they held their gaze, much was communicated like the old warriors had done before, yet different. Arraz’ blue form wavered as the information passed from his mind to his friend’s, but broke contact eventually and walked away with the older Monk. “Is Sinfi still here? Has he already been made aware of his plans?” Arraz whispered as the Abbot and he walked the sandy path back to the Main Temple where the Monks of the Waterfall Heavens lived. The older gentlemen gestured like good friends, and roared with laughter as they entered the main hall. The older Abbot waved Tayama to approach also, yelling from afar, “Hungry yet? Or just starving for attention? Hehee!”

Tayama’s mouth closed after almost a minute of staring and trying to understand what was going on. Only with the Abbot’s words did he remember his grumbling stomach, and spring up, dancing along the winding path back to his Temple home. He had never felt so relieved, and yet so confused at the same time. Arraz’ blue-garbed figure, he saw, was climbing the main statue in the hall and only served to bewilder Tayama further. Who was this blue man, and what had he done with Arraz? As Tayama approached the Temple Hall, he saw that Arraz raced up and down the statue of the One there. Tayama noticed a tinge of something in his blue eyes as Arraz raced around, making a blur in his quick acrobatics. Tayama had never seen him act this way, and instinctively knew something was wrong when the doors to the Temple slammed shut and the laughter inside ceased. Tayama was left in the sandy walkway outside, thinking a plan next. Before he could move further, a strange thought erupted in his mind, “If that’s Arraz, then I’m not me. The real Arraz has got to be around here somewhere…” He gazed into the infinity of waterfalls past horizons that would confuse the normal human eye. One of these waterfalls may hold Arraz, and this thought drove Tayama to quick action. No longer dancing along the steps but darting like a frightened deer, scaling each rock face and letting the crystal clear water push him back. Tayama was determined to look for the rest of his life, his conviction had never been clearer than now, even after all the strange fighting with Monat. Not even his apparent death and revival here in the Waterfall Heaven could shake him of this one belief, and Tayama searched for what seemed like years. This weird feeling drove him for longer than any other, and all for his warrior brother.

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[The Voidless]

Lights and visions flashed before my eyes as I travelled to a Paradise of Waterfalls, a place I had seen while gazing into infinity. In the space within realities, the sights continued, until I arrived at my destination. As I drew closer to the Waterfall Paradise, a force stopped me from moving further. Although the hallucinations had ended, I still felt trapped by visions chaotic: the descendance of a blue being, madness infecting paradise, happiness and gratitude, a host of seemingly jumbled images. Although I could not move, a meditation arose within me, once again I asked myself, “Who am I?” People call me Arraz, but I truly don’t know, so many things have I seen. Maybe I’m being arrogant, but it would suffice to say, that I could be the only spirit of a human that has seen the infinity of reality.

Arraz remembered how angry the Blue God had gotten, and how his tirades of glory would overshadow anything done before. As Arraz recalled the God’s speech, he noticed something strange about the emotion of it all. The Blue God had witnessed Arraz meditating in the full reality of infinity, and lost his mind, but not over that. He had gone in a rage at the mention of Taqhua, and lest he was wrong, Arraz’s serene form detected notes of jealously and conceit in the Blue God’s speech. The off-putting nature of it all distracted Arraz from his astral prison, but the details of the furious occurrence helped him realize something critical; the Blue God had mentioned tricking a little light, the Monk Sinfi, and scaring it to a haven. He even went to the effort of undoing all the work of that pesky monk. Either the Blue God was very concerned with the extinction of humanity or there was another force in play. Before he could continue that line of thought, Arraz was ripped from his prison in a violent psychic tug. He felt like his mind had been battered by storm waves, and his invisible body torn like an unraveling thread. He was losing his sanity, his very ego and all Arraz could do was focus on the pain echoing through him. Every breath he took set fire to his lungs, and before Arraz could pass out or die from the pain, it ended. He found himself back where he had begun, but he was not alone this time. In the endless infinity of realities, Arraz was forced prostrate before a tall, statue-like being.

The white light of vast universes bended around the being’s slim form, reflecting an emerald hue, as Arraz’ eyes moved to the being’s face, he gasped in horror of its familiarity. The Being laughed a maniacal cackle and a green hand reached down in offer before Arraz, palm open, the red veins on the arm coated in tough bark. A dancing fire hid itself behind those black-hole eyes, a dark blue heat at its foundation. Monat had returned, the captured essence of an Enlightened One powering her with pure life. Not only was she independent now, her Dust was slowly growing back along her bosom. She cooed at it as Arraz lost all hope and began to cry, grateful that he had at least a moment before he would be vaporized. As he opened his mouth to speak, a bright light filled the white eternity’s background. The crimson flare of plasma burned a hole in Arraz’ ghastly face, his mouth agape and eyes empty. His spirit fell from that spot, turning into a speck on the sea of whiteness, the hue of which was darkening as Monat and her Dust grew ever larger and resilient. Her malevolence spread as her rending scream shook the cosmos, Monat had come to take all life, in every universe; her pursuit was for an entire consciousness of nature, and every machination within. A psychic universe would enhance the progression of conscious sentient minds, as well as the ones trapped in Monat’s embrace. She wanted to ascend from the Destroyer of Earth to the title of: Controller of Balance. Her screams were defiant warnings of this vicious intent, for Monat had learned at the instant of the Blue God’s interruption of the atomic explosion of Earth 2036, that she needed a higher goal. She was too busy chasing Earthlings, forgetting a higher power: the sentient ones that had always knelt before infection, postured with legs crossed, these seated humans quit. At least that was what Monat believed at first, before she found the Blue God. She had infected him too. Now he had to defend, protect her, at all odds. It wouldn’t be long before all of Reality was at its knees ready for nanobotic Mother Nature force.

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[Waterfall Heavens, Holy Waterfall #73,001]
What felt like two decades had passed and still Tayama had not found any sentient life in the waterfall pools as once had been mentioned. These holy pools held the beginnings of conscious minds, and often were sent to other heavens for training, before going into a mortal body. Now the pools were still and slowly growing black, no longer their sparking blue color. As Tayama searched an eternity of waterfalls, he noticed one small shining mote in a patch of murky green water. The little light beckoned Tayama as he dove and swam upstream, a still-ethereal body gliding easily along. As the young man approached the flickering mote, his mind finally realized that this form wasn’t Arraz. He didn’t have time to move much further before all the water disappeared around him, and he felt as if he was falling slowly. Not enough to alarm, but to give notice, Tayama did have to take a few breaths and steady his ethereal form. It was Sinfi, the White Monk of Creation.


© Copyright 2017 James Peña. All rights reserved.

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