• 6 - Odyssea

    Geminorum 1st, Year 55 - Odyssea

    In the depths of Odyssea a few hours after the meeting, bundled inside her Sanctuary the Priestess looked with stupefaction at the compass between her hands, giggling and glowing in the curve of her palm like the bells of war. An unexpected event had just perturbed the course of the space-time continuum, irreversibly modifying the foreseeable future in which Odysseans and Black Knights were coming in agreement for a ceasefire by common consent.
    As far as she could remember she went by the name of Faeri Dei, Priestess of the Temple of Fortune who had been seconded to the Council of Cosmos as God's messenger forty-five years ago. Her very existence was dedicated to execute His will, mission she dutifully accomplished without objection. She never spoke a word too many. She was seen as cold-hearted, emotionless in appearance. The artefact between her hands shined black, sign of bad omen for the coming times like when Earth's destruction by the vessels of darkness triggered the first Great War.
    " The first Great War..." The thought of it sent chills down her spine. It made hurtful memories of her priesthood resurface. She shuddered. Many died from their wounds. Even more lost their loved ones. Fate was merciless. She the most devoted would-be Priestess of the Temple, who was destined to hold a position in the high spheres of heavens, whose faith to God had always been infallible to this point, committed the utmost crime of contradicting his teachings. He held humanity responsible for its own demise. She pitied the wretched devils forced into exile from their homeland. " May the will of Fate prevail over mankind's lowly concerns," he warned her. " Getting a child involved in this mess, what of your so-called righteousness? To give is to give, to take back is to steal!" she retorted. " Shall thee be banished from the Temple if you refuse to cooperate!" he threatened her. " But the price to pay is too high just to restore peace for a short while before the Empire's next attack. Survivors are unable to sustain a fourth Traumatism anyway!" she bit back.
    She was spacing out. Again. God rarely spoke to her ever since. She sighed and brushed off these reflections in the back of her mind. These memories would never let her at ease. They kept resurfacing whenever she questioned her beliefs. Tears filled her eyes to her own surprise: " The will of Fate, empty words!" she uttered between her teeth. In this instant she dreaded as if the representation of God that ornamented the Sanctuary shot glance at her with disapproval. She looked away and lied down on her couch with weariness to sleep for a while. Yes, peace was a cause worth fighting for the sake of the Confederation. The welfare of the universe prevailed over everything else. No more atrocities. No more pain. She woke up to the sound of the Sanctuary's tocsin that announced the coming of the Galactic Safety Committee aboard the Nebulae their long-haul spaceship, which meant something serious enough to irreversibly alter history had occurred. She wondered if it was related to Chronos' disappearance. She dressed up in haste and summoned the Council for an early extraordinary session:
    " Were the omens true, is it already happening?"

    - The Twelve Guardians are moving their pawns forward, Faeri declared.
    - Will they ever take part in war anyway? Styx objected. Their intentions have never been clearly set; their determination to remain obstinately neutral makes me wonder on which side they stand.
    - Who knows, it might be a sneak move from the Empire to spy on us! Lancaster nodded. We cannot afford to put ourselves in danger by engaging in negotiation with them.
    - I get your point but... Faeri looked down at the crystal-clear barometer between her hands: It seems to me that they aren't willing to declare us war this once. The Nebulae is about to enter the Jovian system at any minute now. Should we let them in?
    - They morons come in peace to have talks when it pleases them! Styx exclaimed.
    - They are God's servants Sty, Zoe intervened. Their existence is dedicated to execute His orders. They only come when something serious enough to disrupt the right course of the universe has happened.
    Faeri acquiesced:
    - An unpredictable future is going to unfold surely related to Chronos' disappearance.
    She had a lump in her throat when she continued speaking:
    - They must have tortured him while in jail to know our location and our future plans of attack.
    - Bastards! Styx swore.
    Faeri clenched her fists over her skirts:
    - I understand your anger Styx although shallow words won’t defeat them. We must act instead of sitting there leisurely to watch the universe be shattered to ruins by Ophideus’ troops.
    Zoe stood up abruptly:
    - How to? We’ve already lost most of our driving forces against their over-trained army! Launching the assault will result in our lamentable defeat! They expect us to respond to violence by violence out of revenge. We shall think before we act too brashly!
    - Have you a better strategy to propose? Styx objected. Come on Livi, this is war!
    Faeri interposed herself between the fighters:
    - Zoe, raise the white flag would be equal to declare forfeit! Styx, we have already fought them head-on and lost against their indestructible cannons!
    “ Nebulae to Odyssea, we’ve got a special delivery for you!”
    All six startled. Faeri switched on the call. A hologram of Taurus sprouted out from the Council’s 3D projector: “ Hello there, Priestess!”
    - What’s the matter Taurus?
    “ You already know that Chronos has been captured by the Empire and forced to enrol in their ranks. They have conditioned him to become one of their soldiers. He had to trade his freedom in exchange for survival. They have now a great trump card in their hands. You stand no chance against them if you bluntly open fire. Your utmost objective is the preservation of the universe.”
    - The preservation of the universe? Should not the Empire be defeated first? Styx observed. In some cases, a conflict is inevitable.
    “ Wrong answer, harbinger of death. Odyssea would blow up in seconds and mankind be annihilated under the fire of the Emperor’s artillery.”
    - Are you saying we should just give up and submit?
    “ Not yet.” The Guardian responded, peeling a litchi he swallowed in one bite. “ The Temple was quick in reaction to Chronos’ disappearance. Though, may the hands of Fate have the power to decide, I can’t help but disagree with their choice.”
    - So what I saw in the omens was true? Faeri inquired.
    “ Yes, sadly Chronos has been stripped of his Counsellor status and banished from the heavens. It is unlikely that he will ever be able to get out the Palace unharmed, even if he were, he would no longer be allowed to serve the Temple.”
    Resigned to think their comrade was forever gone, dead or alive, the six Counsellors looked down at the ground. Taurus smirked: “ You should not lose hope too early.”
    - To put it simply, our situation is desperate, Hitori commented. If we stay in retreat, the Empire will rule over the universe until the end of time. If we declare war to them, we’ll lose many of our remaining troops. Civilisations never learn from their scars. I can't help to think we could have prevented the solar system from collapsing long ago.
    Taurus let out a chuckle, amused: “ You said it right Judge, unless destiny chooses one little loony bird graced with heavenly abilities to restore harmony between the worlds.”
    Hitori did not let a hint of emotion pierce through his armour. Not in front of his colleagues. A Counsellor shall not let his personal concerns corrupt his dutiful sense of justice.  But he had a bad feeling about this situation not to mention Taurus' sudden familiarity. Taurus grinned:
    " Don't you worry, the little one's doing well!"
    - You, as Guardian, must value tolerance and understanding in your statements, which disavows your unfounded contempt for the human race, Faeri reproached him
    “ This time again, heavens have elected an earthling from the Era of no Return to bear the charge of Seventh Counsellor.”

    - Oh hell ... Styx interjected, nodding in disbelief. One is enough, isn’t he?
    - Styx! Sylvestre mumbled between her teeth.
    - Snap out of your personal grudges against each other you two! Lancaster observed.
    - Who the hell had the awful idea of establishing this messed up system to begin with? We need competent personalities as Counsellors! Styx exclaimed.
    - Don’t judge too fast on circumstances Sty, Zoe admonished him.
    - They caused the demise of their own planet!
    Sylvestre stood up abruptly, infuriated: “ Enough, I have enough of this conversation!”
    She pointed an accusing finger at Styx:
    - Despite the fact their industrial activities exhausted Earth’s resources and destroyed most of the fauna and flora at its surface, despite the fact they mistreated their so-called environment, the responsibility goes to their leaders who did not enact the right policies to slow down the destruction of the planet. Many populations, to whom was granted the status of climatic refugees by the United Countries Committee, have suffered whether they died from starvation and illnesses or endured a life of poverty on exodus to the continents!
    “ Sheesh, here you go again, Styx Van Hellson. You know what, I’m sure that she, even if her character pisses me off greatly, is much more competent than you to save the universe from the Void. Just because she used to live at the time the first Traumatism occurred, and as a consequence, has a reason to believe this world is not completely hopeless yet.”
    Styx was about to respond that it was not a believable motive to prove her worthy of the charge she had been given when the door of the council room slid open and Bobbi Bot entered in a rattle of scrap metal followed a few steps in retreat by a young girl in her mid-twenties according to this time's standards. He nodded at the assembly:
    - Greetings ladies and gentlemen.

    Geminorum 1st, Year 55 - Nebulae

    - Now that you've admitted the unbelievable, a short introductory speech to this time's gears is necessary for you to understand how the current geopolitical pattern of the galaxy works.
    Done in Alys sipped on a tube of vitamin C to keep her senses on alert:
    - That's for sure.
    - The Confederation composed of the Empire and the Insurrection is governing the universe as long as there are no other identified forms of life in other galaxies. Us known as Guardians or else Galactic Safety Committee are in charge of guaranteeing the well-being of the populations who struggle to survive in this tensed era vast wasteland been tarnished by an endless cycle of bloody wars before a ceasefire was established five years ago.
    - I guess that the Empire was victorious and the Insurrection forced to cower in fear before their weaponry after losing many of their troops?
    - You said it. So as to welcome survivors after the disaster was created the colony of Odyssea on stationery inside the ancient Jovian system. Odyssea is led by the Council of Cosmos a corporation of divined beings each given a fragment of the Creation to make possible the rebirth of civilisations: time, life, death, nature, weather, faith and knowledge.
    - What's the point if the solar system has been irreversibly destroyed?
    - Somewhere in the universe there must be a planet suitable to welcome life, at least this is all we can hope for. If there isn't, then Odysseans are condemned to eternal wander across the universe.
    - All because of the Empire?
    - They think themselves as the forgotten souls, the left behind of the Expansion, vengeful spirits abandoned to die in atrocious suffering by their peers, which stirred up their angst and their resentment against the human race.
    - What happened? Alys asked.
    - This part of history that wraps the birth and rise of the Empire, at the time mankind found a new motherland on the planet Mars, has remained uncertain from the twenty-sixth century still to this day. The record of Earth’s decline is a whole another subject I won’t address because I don’t know much about it.
    Alys had nothing to say. She meditated about Taurus’ revelations as an otherworldly view of the solar system shattered to ruins unfolded before her eyes. The galaxy she used to know had been wrecked, diminished, annihilated to an indefinable mass of meteorites, asteroids and burning rocks driven off gravity. Planets no longer existed. Stars in agony breathed their last shine. Desolated land, sight of chaos, eaten away by nothingness as the apocalypse approached, Alys thought. Taurus winked at her:
    - Losing hope too early will let them win. That’s not what you want, right?
    - I don’t even know what is exactly my mission! Alys objected.
    - As I've told you before you have successfully survived a NDE what entitles you as applicant for the charge of Seventh Counsellor wielder of Knowledge due to the sudden disappearance of its previous owner.
    Alys raised an eyebrow:
    - Who decides?
    - You like asking questions, don't you?
    - Would not it be normal in this context?
    - Guess so. Fate it is called or hazard if you prefer.
    Been drawn at random by the godly embodiment of destiny among other nominees certainly more worthy than her to receive such honour made Alys feel illegitimate. She wished she had a normal life, at least as much normal as possible. Meanwhile she was mumbling to herself the Nebulae reached Odyssea's surroundings. Taurus switched on a wristband wrapped around his forearm:
    - Nebulae to Odyssea, we’ve got a special delivery for you!

    Geminorum 1st, Year 55 - Odyssea

    - You don't even come to pay your respects in person and send to us a scrap heap of attendant as your representative instead! Styx shouted.
    " Let's skip formalities, we're running out of time."
    - Uh, hello...
    Bobbi Bot's protégée blushed of embarrassment as she left the shadows of the entryway. The room offered a panoramic view of space beyond its curved windows. The six people that called themselves Council of Cosmos sat around an heptagonal conference table quarrelling. Sylvestre’s fiery glare adjoined Styx to calm down. "Welcome, I guess" he said coldly. Zoe sketched a smile of circumstance:
    - Don't worry about these two, they're constantly fighting over bigger or smaller concerns.
    - Haha... in two hours time my life has been turned upside down: I got abducted, transported here without my consent and entrusted of a divine mission to guarantee the prosperity of the galaxy... Here I am and I don't even know what to expect.
    A blue lightning crossed the room to everyone's stupefaction aimed at Taurus who let out a sarcastic laughter: "Be careful time lawyer, your spade almost ripped me off."
    - Must you defeat me before anything else happens if you are the mastermind of this plan!
    - So Fate has stated, shall its will be executed, Faeri affirmed. You may all come down to your senses and reflect on why a human child has been sent out to help us in our quest.
    Lancaster acquiesced, noting that Faeri usually talked with reason when conflict arose between Counsellors, Zoe and Sylvestre too. Styx shrugged his shoulders, defeated. Hitori’s fingertips were burning blue. Beneath his brash characterlaid a sensitive man, a part of him he rarely showed, compassionate for his loved ones. His caring personality took over impartiality and broke all masks apart when he stood up:
    - From today on and until she has accomplished her office, I will take responsibility for her doings. If any of you attempts to put her life in danger, they will have to pass over my dead body!
    His heart throbbed with pain as he walked across the room to her, with guiltiness to have dragged his cherished stepdaughter into this tragedy. He wrapped his arms around her chest comfortingly: “ I don’t know why and how you’ve gotten here, I’ll make sure that everything’s going to be alright soon,” he whispered to her ear. The concerned could not hold back her emotion anymore, moved by this unexpected reunion.
    - Let me end today’s session here, it has been a stressful ungodly night for us all, Faeri declared.

    The Galactic Safety Committee and Bobbi Bot seen out, Styx sighed of relief:
    - At least they're gone for good.
    Sylvestre leaned back in her chair, twisting a creeper around her middle finger, her leaf-green irises drilled on his neck: " Better watch your manners out of respect for the committee!" Sullen Styx mumbled an apology. Lancaster refrained from making any comment and so did Zoe shaken by Judge's emotional outburst.
    Everyone dismissed, Faeri summoned a teleportation portal back to the Sanctuary to rest. But something worried her when she lied down on her couch to take a well-deserved nap. If her predictions were coming true, a greater threat than another galactic war weighted on the universe. In last resort the Empire had the strong hand on the exchequer by holding Chronos in hostage. Most importantly, which she omitted to tell the Council, she had witnessed the recreation of the Oblivion dynasty in her dreams. The great Oblivius was about to acquire the legendary power of immortality from the endeavours of a woman. She dreaded at the thought of it that would annihilate the Confederation by causing its downfall.
    " If it were the case, we'd already have been attacked by the Black Knights, no?"

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