Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Moment: The War Nobody Remembers

     The man sits alone at the edge of a small cliffside, on a planet that shouldn't exist in a time that shouldn't be reachable. He stares, impenetrably, into the distance, the lines on his face forming caverns that travel down eyes that have seen unimaginable horrors into the grayed forests that frame his perpetually scowling mouth. He looks tired, more tired than he has with any other face. Tired enough to give up completely. To check out of the horrors of this war that he didn't want to fight, and spent so long running from when he was young and dashing. But that young and dashing romantic man is gone now, leaving a hollow weapon in his place. A weapon that has expended so much ammunition it can't possibly fire anymore.

     From observing him, you would think that he is no longer paying attention. But he hears the soft rustle of bone and silk behind him and, without turning, he acknowledges the presence approaching him.

     "You shouldn't be here. It's not safe." 

     The young woman in the bone armour does not approach any further, but instead kneels almost reverently. She bows her head slightly, averting her gaze. "My apologies, Grandfather, but there is nowhere you can go that we do not see you." 

     "I'm not your Grandfather, and I want no more part of this," he grumbles, his voice at the same time soft and piercing.

     "I petition you, on behalf of what remains of the Eleven Day Empire. I petition you, Grandfather of House P-"

     "I'm not your Grandfather," he brusquely interrupts, "and your House can go hang itself, along with the rest of them. I've no more to do with this atrocity. Perhaps it's time the universe burns itself apart. Let something better take its place."

     The girl is silent for a moment, carefully considering her next words. She's one of the last of her House, having worked in secret through the war, tracking the Grandfather's movements as he cut a swath of destruction first through machinations of mutants, then through rogue elements of his own people. "Apologies, Grandf... sir. But there's something you should know. Something you wouldn't remember. Something only few remember, those who were outside it all. Our House remembers, the Sisterhood remembers, and would probably tell you, and only you, if you were only to ask the right questions."

     He turns, the first time he has moved in quite some time, taking in the appearance of his petitioner. Her armour crafted of the bones of creatures that never existed and covered in a black cloak that seemed to move of its own accord. But most importantly, her shadow, a shadow that drifts on the ground about her as if it were a sentry, and appears to be holding a rather large dagger that she herself is not.

   "Little Cousin. What's your name?" he asks, after a long moment.

     "Cousin Talia, late of House Paradox," she answers, with a hint of sadness.

     "And Cousin Talia, late of House Paradox, you are aware that your shadow seems to be holding a machete?"

     "Yes, Gra...yes, sir. I wield the Grandfather's shadow. I am all that is left. Cousin Eliza fell in an ambush, and passed the shadow to me."

     "Why are you here, Cousin Talia? Can't you see I want to be left alone? I'm tired of being swept up in a conflict that threatens to end the very universe itself."

     "Sir, there's something you should know. Something you wouldn't remember. The enemy you face now... is there any logical way they could be a threat to your people on this scale? Your people control time itself. The more ruthless amongst you could easily go back and do that which you chose not to do so long ago. Your people are weak. They were caught unaware after a greater conflict. One with an enemy that was not only greater than what you currently face, but was far older and more powerful than even your people could begin to imagine. You were in that war, you and the renegade you count as brother. You triumphed, but at great cost to the universe. Your people were too busy rebuilding time itself from the shattered fragments that were left over when the mutants attacked. Your most powerful weapons had been expended, your most potent soldiers sacrificed. That is the only reason why they threaten you now."

     The man does not respond at first to this. He turns inward, and turns away from Cousin Talia. His eyes scan the horizon physically, but internally, he is searching his memory for inconsistencies. He meditates on his past lives... and there. In the cracks of his memories. Three. Seven. Eight. The memories feel wrong, things missing, things that couldn't happen but did. Plaster, over cracks in the wall. He pushes at the crack and... there. The prior war, the one that ended before he was on a crashing ship with a pilot that hated him for being what he was.

     "You remember, don't you? Or you remember enough." She sounds almost confident now.

     "Yes. Enough. The moment has come. No more."

     He stands up, finally, and walks back towards the blue box sitting in the distance. He stops a few feet away from Cousin Talia. "Thank you. You've given me what I need. It's time for this to end."

     Cousin Talia, if you could see past her shadow and the bone shards framing her face, might be blushing when she responds, "Grandfather, it has been my honour. Spirits protect you... and watch over you." 

    As he slips the key into the door of his box, the man turns back to Cousin Talia, whispering a barely audible thank you to her, then pausing.

     "Cousin Talia, if you truly are all that is left, then surely you should consider yourself more than a Cousin, if you are to rebuild."
      She nods, before fading out in a whispering, groaning noise. He enters the impossibly large space inside his box, pressing a few buttons to set the coordinates for the Homeworld, steeling himself for what is to come. 

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