• Naomi Kokuboheki felt cramped bundled into the nuclear shelter she was assigned into and could not stay in place for more than seconds. At thirty-five she was an engaged singer founder of the Next Century Loners music band.
    For many years she had cut all ties with her family the day her father tried to convince her to engage in politics. It was something she could not be forced to. It appeared in her eyes that he would have liked her to follow his steps however she was not interested at all in holding a high position in the government. The seeds for the change were to be found in other ways of engagement. She was a woman of character usually wearing men clothing and suffered no authority. Somehow as the lead singer of the Next Century Loners she was her own authority. It did not meant she liked to give orders or thought herself above laws but more like she did not trust anymore in the official speeches. She just admired the bravery of those who tried to conciliate both sides with patience, resolve and words rather than wars and weapons.
    Her little brother for example he was one of the few people she appreciated in the family. They did not need words to understand each other because they shared the same will. . It has been years since she saw him for last. Wearily she switched on the multitask watch hanging around her wrist to take a peek at latest news. It displayed the amateur shots people had taken so far of the recent events.
    She sighed and pulled her guitar off the ground, a vivid blue electric guitar that is why she was nicknamed Blue Bird by her mates. She set the tuning breaking accidentally a string and saw it as a sign of bad luck.
    - Tch! She uttered.
    She lit up a cigarette and looked beyond the shelter’s sealed window at the battlefield
    The battle had wrecked havoc around the city smashing the buildings and the public equipment to bits. Out of anger her cigarette crashed on the wall leaving a trail of ash on the metal. It could have been compared to the world itself if the bomb was really gong to explode and she wondered how to put an end to that unending cycle of wars without provoking another war, a war of interest and mass destruction.
    She switched on the radio given the latest news were broadcasted in real time.
    The events were told from the point of view of the Official people from what she understood the revolutionaries had already reached the city’s nuclear power plant.
    She smiled. Actually after so many years of waiting the revolution was on the air.
    “ – We can’t tell yet if the battle has made victims but from what witnesses reported we are almost sure that the leader of the uprising Hitori Kokuboheki also son of the former Prime Minister is known dead by now.”
    Eyes widened in shock Naomi rose up and shut off the radio.
    - No way… they will pay for that those officials! She uttered.

    Her motorbike flying down the city at full speed, Naomi pestered about politics in general. No way the current government could have stayed in place for ten years if people had revolted earlier but people were naïve. Since his second victory to the presidential elections in 2035 the will of the President to concentrate all powers pretending it could solve the world crisis for a while was real enough to be not acceptable.
    She felt sad for the death of her brother. Being the eldest child and his big sister she has kind of a motherly instinct that told her she could have done something to save him but how given she was not even aware of what happened just a little while before.
    She had regret and remorse. The last time they saw each other they were arguing about Hitori engaging or not engaging in politics. He was able to become a promising politician while her not because she did not agree with their father’s point of view about political engagement.
    The next day or a few days after she left the family house slamming doors and never came back again. Henceforth a free bird she bought at that time her first guitar and began doing engaged music on the street to earn money and buying her own apartment.
    She led a free life far from the conventional society by living under bridges or the dark corners of side streets. Thereafter she settled in life more conventionally by finding paid well seasonal jobs as café singer or part time pianist for one night concerts she got to make a better living and become famous. She was mostly well known for her rebellious personality and her engage songs because she had to deal with censors more than once. She was a great singer but with a terrible character: pleasing her was pretty difficult because her expectations were often too high for the sake of the cause she was defending.
    To the world she showed her cold and intransigent self but inside she was another person. From the shadows she was motherly watching over Hitori in secret. She took her role of big sister at heart although she had cut all ties with the other members of the family.
    Her fingers clawed into the handlebar out of anger. She arrived too late to interfere.
    Despair overwhelmed every else feeling. Inside her it provoked the birth of a new resolve as though she was hit by a blast of energy coming from behind with the strength of a fist.
    The surroundings of the nuclear power plant were a vast no man’s land. There was deadly rotting trees here and there. Naomi could not help to compare this gruesome scenery to the doors of hell. There was a Jeep parked nearby. She was attracted to that point without knowing why. Until she realized her chest was sparkling she had not noticed yet the change in her appearance.

    The corridor was dipped into the silence. No one spoke because no one knew what was next

    “- I would very much like to know if we're not fooled by what the legends say of that ability and that we're not playing our last card only trying to make diversion. We should put up a plan to act with strategy else we're about to lose already ... ”, Theodora observed for herself.
    Hellmet Pitsbulk chuckled:
    - Purely words and magic, do you think I was going to be feared? No one is allowed to command me I do what I want, the way I want.
    Fritz Davis laughed:
    - What is funny in what I’ve said? The President asked and shot glance at Fritz who was chuckling continuously.
    - You think childishly that this display of power might be a magic trick but you don’t even know what you’re talking about. The Judgment of Time is meant to judge the present by learning from the mistakes of the past to hope for a better future. It will start activating anytime soon when its four users will be awakened. 
    When arriving nearby the nuclear power station Naomi saw the Jeep when seeing Hitori inside braked brutally. She jumped off her seat and came to the car.
    She looked at his peaceful face expression with compassion. Her fingers touched the curve of his neck to check his pulse though she knew it was already too late.
    Now that she knew a part of the truth a blue flame burned inside her awakening a power she possessed unknowingly for long.
    - Everyone is waiting for us let’s go, said someone from nearby. My name is Shinichiro nice to meet you.

    - One word. One act. Everything is a matter of choices. Time waits for no one.
    Naomi looked deeply at Hellmet Pitsbulk:
    - Don’t ever cause such mess in the right flow of time again!
    - Naomi step back! Marcus intervened. It is too dangerous…
    - This failure of a President will pay!
    - What are you going to do against me with no weapon meanwhile I’ve got the activation code of the most powerful nuclear bomb ever created? Hellmet Pitsbulk chuckled.
    - The Judgement of Time use is to prevent certain events from happening when they can be avoided. In other words it is meant to put again the world on the right way by learning from the consequences of the first Traumatism. I do hope for the fourth of us the Judge to ever awake and kick your ass out the country’s leadership for what you did not do to make it better to live in.
    - It is childish still to trust in guardian angels.
    - Clawing your determination into the Shovel of Death to win the battle is childish.
    Shinichiro stepped forward next to Naomi and looked deeply at the President
    - Just think twice about your behaviour and act now for the world to change positively.
    If you let the bomb to explode a tragic future awaits mankind at the end of the road. It is the result of a world’s excess for being too power thirsty and money seeking, its economy based on exhausting the last remaining resources. People will live undersea in a fully operating substitute high tech world completely created from scratch by the scientists mandated by your government. Consequences are gruesome against world’s balance. The weather as become unstable, the seasons flipped upside: the sudden increase of temperature due to the climatic change will fasten the melting of the ice caps turning the world into a huge sea. The commonly known continents will no longer exist replaced by a web of urban structures connected together by high speed roads and forming together the federal state called the Republic of Aftermath. Those state cities will be named after the old time countries. They will display numbered by chronological order to be easily identified on maps.
    Hellmet Pitsbulk frowned with quizzical eyes, in some way amused
    - Do you think I will believe that display of things? What if you are tricking me with an alternate vision of the future?
    - Your argument is poor, why do you think I’m trying to fool you? It is the fault of your regime by willing to practise illegal nuclear test without a real worth purpose. You can still repay for your responsibility in this mess by stopping the countdown with a single finger move. Choose your side, either you are still determined to achieve your plan or you want to act now and switch off the bomb before it is too late to step back. By now your choice should be already made.
    - I admit you’re right.
    - So what?
    Hellmet Pitsbulk held out the key and made it swirl around his finger mocking the matter with a nervous burst of laughter:
    - I think you have just made me checkmate on that topic.
    If you want it come to take it. Hurry none of us want the Shovel of Death to explode tonight.
    Shinichiro nodded but was stopped by Naomi. It was a too easy victory.
    “It must be a trap!” the young woman thought looking around to search for any hint of a vicious last chance trap. She did not see anything suspicious at first glance.
    - Wait Naomi! Theodora exclaimed. What is your plan? Don’t you think this victory is too easy?
    - I know what you’re thinking Mother. You have already lost a son and you do not want me to intervene in the fight because I can get hurt and die, right?
    - That’s not all of it …
    - What is it about then if not myself getting involved late in the fight?
    - Look behind!
    - Huh?
    Naomi turned around to face a monster made of iron and steel. The real Shovel of Death. The bomb was a mere toy after all meant to make a clever diversion.
    - The last countdown has started.


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  • Outside the silence was full. Birds gathered on electric cables deserting the surroundings of the nuclear power plant. Massive clouds were covering the sky so that sunrays could barely pierce through. In the city people stopped their current activities to look at the station afar. No one knew what was going on but an overwhelming feeling of fear was taking over people’s hearts. The world was coming to an end way too early. 
    Not yet.
    A strong thunderbolt shook the world from heavens to the underworld causing a small earthquake. A giant time clock falling from nowhere appeared in the sky above wrapping the city in a protective light blue aura of energy.
    They were losing hope when all of a sudden it started to show.
     
    Near the end I had a sharper consciousness of my responsibilities in this mess because I knew it was a no return journey to the living world when I’d step beyond the doors of death.
    I was not expecting things would stir up to cause a civil war. It was not what I was aiming for by engaging in my whole mind and soul in this fight for freedom I was supposed to take the lead. A painful burst of laughter escaped my lungs. I was not a hero all things considered and who could pretend to be a hero? There were amazing people who were acting for good, brave and determined. Me somehow I got caught up in the wave because I was the son of the late Prime Minister and it just suited me so well to be the figurehead of the opposition.
     
    My body felt heavy all of a sudden. A sharp pain stirred up my chest so that I could hardly breath. Where were you Alys? I could not see you anymore my eyesight narrowed as my life was coming to an end anytime soon. My senses were switched off one by one as though they were candle flames. The world turned into a slow, overwhelming darkness. I could hear you calling for my name telling me everything will be all right soon but your words were unable to comfort me to my dismay. My whole body gasped for its last breath to tell you something important before I die, something you need to know to feel better. It is not your fault you who is always taking responsibility for things you haven’t done. I care for you. I love you so much as though I were your father.
    Stop.
    Crying.
    You need to go on your own from now on no one will be more able than you to handle this hard time by yourself.
     
    My chest feels warm. The bullet is still burning my skin. The blood spread fast. My life was drained along with each drop of red liquid dripping from the wound.
    About death, about life there’s something I can’t get over.
    Someone attempted to save me from death if not I would have died much earlier.
    Who was it?
    Who the heck?
    Never mind. I did my part of the job I guess.
    I’m dying.
    My eyesight blurs. Death is such a painful feeling of abandoning the loved ones to live with the sadness and the despair to see history repeat. Another Traumatism shall not happen. We were supposed to prevent it from happening and save the world.
    All my strength is gone.
    I want to live!
    I can bear many things but not my own helplessness.
     
    A few more seconds, just a few more but it won’t last.
    No longer.
    Able to.
    Think.
    Move.
    Breath.
     
    Darkness. My senses are blurred
    Pain. My last breath vanishes painfully.
    Void. I’m swallowed by the silence as my soul quits my body.
    Return. As though it compels me to live.
    Light. I cannot only wait and watch.
     
    Then I realize a flow of energy is draining my body what keeps my limbs alive though they are no longer irrigated by blood. It pulls me up and pushes me out the darkness. My eyes widened. My breath is fast and twitchy as if I was drowning but I can feel my heart beating by small bumps beneath my chest.
    It is such a strange feeling to recover my senses. I raise my hand in front of my eyes and move it slowly in the air folding and unfolding my fingers. I close my eyelids blindfolded by the sunlight for an instant. I pull myself up to rest on my elbows and let go of the survival gold blanket wrapping my body.
    I open the car door and jump outside on the ground. I stumble and grope for the hot metal of the car roof before I fall.
    I feel a little better to take a walk around.
     I’m amazed to be still alive. Hellmet is probably feeling victorious of knowing me dead but I’m enduring about many things. My will is strong I won’t lose to the wheel of fate.
    I’m simply a hero in human body. The dead don’t talk.
    Miracles can’t happen when the fight is about to end already.
    I’m a man before all and I should be more relying on my people. They are strong and trustworthy. When I look around the way is clear, no gatekeepers guarding the door of the station. Though in my state I don’t stand a chance if I have to engage a fight.
     
    The truth was revealed before everyone’s eyes: the Lonesome fighters had been fooled and it was now too late for them to retreat. The Judgment Of Time was nothing compared to this monster made of iron and most likely filled with nuclear energy.
    Naomi started to realize her brother’s sacrifice was useless if no one understood that the real way of solving the crisis was to light up a long term uprising for things to change effectively. Destroying the Shovel of Death only solved the problem instantly. Thereafter Hellmet Pitsbulk had enough influence on the international political stage and the international money market all together to invest in the future by carrying further experimentations about nuclear energy applied to military matters.
     
    Were the Lonesome powerless in front of that giant of steel and iron?
    The thought crossed Alys’ mind with the beginning of an answer. She looked at her family and her comrades. Everyone was fighting for the same cause but each with his or her personal reasons from revolt to revenge.
    She looked at herself barehanded. She had no weapon either. Her throat tightened. She was helpless only able to watch everyone fighting from afar. She felt a hand brush against her shoulder:
    - No one will go mad at you if you feel powerless.
    - Uh?
    She turned around. Theodora smiled at her with kindness. “Heroes exist only in movies.”
    Alys nodded and looked down:
    - That is what I try to convince myself.
    Her cheeks felt wet. She hovered a hand over her face to swipe her tears:
    - But I can’t forget and just go on. I simply can’t.
     
    Nine people, nine hearts beating like one.
    Sixty minutes left before the beginning of the end.
    There were lessons so hard learning. Alys looked alternatively at Mikael, Isha, Ashley, Theodora, Marcus, Shinichiro, Fritz, Naomi and herself. They had gone so far, through so many hard times together and simply being together was already a response to the revolution’s call for a more fair and equal world respecting itself and mankind.
    At the price of huge sacrifices the Lonesome had realized that to make the breeze of change to blow on this new world they so wished for they had to act commonly for the same ideals instead of fighting on their own.
    What’s more some teachings were to be learned from history’s heavy legacy about the consequences of nuclear energy on the environment and people. An end should be put to the use of bombs and other weapons of mass destruction to threaten other countries of declaring war to serve a questionable political interest.
     
    Alys was no longer afraid. Talking with Theodora made her realize she was not powerless.
    Her had not intervened yet in the battle but felt she could not stay back while her comrades and family were fighting. She had not a supernatural ability or political responsibilities but with her determination she could still take part in the uprising.
    She took a step forward. On the ground she found Fritz’s weapon.
    Her sorrow and despair decupled her strength. She pulled the shears off the ground in one move, one move of anger and resentment against the one who had shattered her life to pain and tears. She was hanging on by the strong filial bound that united her to the one who always cared for her as if he was her father, like a second family.when she was lost and looked for her bearings while adapting to live undersea between the walls of Society. She walked faster and faster then almost started to run, fighting head on.
    Hellmet Pitsbulk frowned and snapped his fingers. The Shovel of Death moved so fast that Alys did not see the blow coming. The shears swished the air cutting through nothing but void while the cyborg grabbed Alys by the neck tight quickly disarming her.
    She tried to break free with much effort in vain. Under everyone’s eyes in shock the Shovel of Death raised Alys off the ground as though she was weightless keeping her at gunpoint.
     
    The red numbers, unfolding as the countdown was scrolling down to zero, were somehow fascinating. Only a few minutes left. The Lonesome came too late to hope they could do something to save the world. In front of them was the result of a whole decade of technology and scientific improvement out of science’s madness.
    - She will be the first to die if you do not listen to my conditions, Hellmet Pitsbulk observed.
    - She does not have to pay for the crimes you committed, release her right away! Ashley exclaimed.
    Hellmet Pitsbulk turned to look at her and chuckled:
    - No need to be afraid because my aim is not to kill her… What’s this?
    A bright aura surrounded Alys’ body keeping her safe from the Shovel of Death. “What’s happening?” Ashley wondered. 
    The glow extended wrapping tenderly Alys’ body in a soft shimmering beam of light.
    It was also healing the girl’s wounds. Around Shinichiro’s neck the flask broke suddenly apart responding to its master’s call. The Judgment of Time sparkled brightly transforming into a small blue orb that floated in the air. A new future drew shape among the thousand other threads Fritz could foresee thanks to his ability. Another time traveller had birthed somewhere in the world. He sighed heavily. It was a tough path that to be only able to watch and do nothing to modify the past that could turn the flow of time upside down.
    The echo of footsteps resonated from the lower floors and then a silhouette emerged from the shadows. The orb flew towards the corridor and landed softly into the Judge’s palms emitting streams of electric blue energy.
    Fritz smirked, satisfied by how things were turning:
    - Perfect timing.
    - I cannot stay back watching from afar.
    The artefact split into small orbs. They grew shape and scattered giving birth to complex clock machinery.
    - Your petty cyborg won’t do a thing to save your regime Hellmet. It will for the sake of the past, present, and future end up destroyed to bits of iron instead. I can’t afford to let you go on your own to cause another Traumatism in another time because of your power thirst.
    I for a reason I can now explain survived death to bring peace to the living world and I won’t miss with my duties for the second time. Either you stop that machine of war by your own will or I will make sure to do it in your stead even if it might cost my life to complete the process. Yes because in the end like any other human being I will die but not before saving this world from destruction. It is the price to pay to have gained the ability to intervene in changing the flow of time.
    Hellmet Pitsbulk frowned with a chuckle:
    - You’re such an arrogant but intriguing brat. How come you always hide a trump card in your pocket when you’re supposed to be dead? Come over there if you have the guts to face me.
    - Get lost. I’m not here to engage another fight.
     
    The effects of body exhaustion alter my senses.
    Time keeps my arms and legs alive and moving but I must admit I’m pushing myself too far. Being the Judge makes my wounds heal faster it won’t be enough to hold on for long however. I focus my attention on the orb sparkling between my hands and looked up. If I do nothing Hellmet will push that button at last.
    I pull my spirits together and step forward leaving the safety of the darkness.
    I summon the power within me to become Judge setting the machinery of time in action.
    As I walk through the corridor with determination nine stunned faces turn to look at me. I stand silent for a handful of seconds staring at my old enemy. Then my eyes shifted to look at the Shovel of Death. So Hellmet was well hiding his main trump card until now although it was highly predictable that he had not been fighting at full strength.
    He had planned everything to win. The red numbers were unfolding faster as the countdown was ending soon.
    - What if you made the right choices for once?
    - After all I’m the villain and you’re supposed to stop me from achieving my plans, Hellmet responded with an evil chuckle.
    - Time does not allow one to change the past but persuade those who can to repair their mistakes and to prevent the world from collapsing again without delay.
    - I’m not so good to admit my deeds by my own will without fighting.
    One hand to judge, one hand to protect: I extended my arms setting a shield around my comrades to keep them safe from the battle:
    - Let’s begin!

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  • July 17th, 2050:
     
    Negotiating with someone self proclaiming himself President and threatening the members of the committee to start a new world war if they tried anything to put down his regime claiming it was none of other countries’ business to tell him how he was supposed to act as a legitimate leader happened to be very hard if not almost impossible.
    The diplomats were cornered whatever decision was the best to take faced with such setting of events. All efforts to save the world from premature destruction had been put into action and yet it had resulted in a masterful checkmate. Desperate they could only wait for history to repeat. Even if the Lonesome managed to defuse the Shovel of Death on time it only gave the start for the true revolution taken care by the committee to conciliate all countries around the world to establish a long-term democracy.
     
    July 15th, 2040:
     
    Arms opened I extend my hands pulling Alys’ inert body into their caring embrace. Because of the amount of energy I used to save her she has lost consciousness and I held her lovingly against my chest smiling with compassion. She will think it was a dream, that I came to visit her in her sleep but I must admit painfully that it is the hard reality. I should remain a memory for her to stop living in the past and go forward.
    Tears filled my eyes while I look at her sleeping peacefully. When she will awake I’ll be forever gone. I’m dying of remorse to cause her more suffering than necessary although I must fight back my emotion in front of Hellmet.
    I turned around to put Alys inside the shield too. I see hope in the eyes of everyone that are expecting me to solve the situation at last because we won’t have a third chance to achieve so. We’ve been fighting together for many years and we no longer need words to communicate our thoughts and expectations. Seeing my siblings reunited is moving. I haven’t seen again my sister in so long since she left home to become engaged singer. As always her smile enlightens the curves of her face, warm and caring. I will forever keep her in memory as a big sister watching over her little brother from afar. Her lips moved slow, speaking softly words of encouragement: “We’re counting on you!”  I would like to cry of emotion, hug tight my comrades and my family for the last time because I know so well after the fight has ended our roads should part when I’ll retreat from the living world to wander across the flow of time. Instead a pale reckless grin draws on my face while streams of power focus and gather between my palms. I feel the weight of a heavy task put on my shoulders, such is my fate and I can’t give up after going through so many obstacles with everyone to win the war.
    “ Make the right choice!”
    Hearing this old rough voice resurfacing from a past I had managed to forget sounded too familiar and yet so foreign. How this can be even possible?
    I look over my shoulder to make sure I’m not dreaming of hearing my father’s voice. My eyes widened. He stood next to Theodora and Naomi holding their hands tight.
    I can’t hide my astonishment and my emotion, though I bit my lip hard to redeem my composure and turn around to face Hellmet. He’s looking at me mockingly and snapped his fingers putting the Shovel of Death in movement. The robot moved mechanically but quickly. Its arms and legs made of iron split apart scattering into long shot war guns.
    I leap backward to dodge the first bullets throwing defensive shields in the air to stop them. I look at them exploding, scattering into bits of sharp metal melting immediately and frown. Like expected those weapons are highly radioactive, filled with nuclear energy. To destroy the puppet I must defeat the puppet master.
    Hellmet threw another row of bullets laughing mischeviously:
    - So now are you starting to understand you can’t defeat me in your state? All you’re doing is escaping once and again, trying hard to counterattack, but in the end I’ll manage to find your weakness! Because all heroes have weaknesses!
    His words echoed strangely in my mind, recalling a woman’s face from a distant past I had forgotten with time. She smiles warmly holding a newborn baby in her arms. Sky is cloudless, reflecting on the surface of the sea. Then all of a sudden their faces vanished falling in pieces as though they were made of glass. When I look up at Hellmet I remember what lit my determination, the reason why I’ve been fighting for a better world guaranteeing justice and freedom of expression. Why we broke up because of Hellmet who was already persecuting intellectuals at the time even before he was self-proclaimed as country leader. My will was to protect them who were living happily together without a second thought about their lives endangered. I shove my hand onward, casting a shield large enough to stop all the bullets at once:
    - Using strength has never solved anything! Why won’t you listen to what I have to say? If you keep playing around with this cyborg of yours the world will blow in an instant. Is that what you want?
    Not waiting for an answer I cast an orb between my palms that grew bigger and showed a glimpse of the near future if another Traumatism happened again, a sight of true chaos.
    For several days the world is dipped into darkness. Flying submarines cross the sea back and forth dragging survivors undersea to live in the new safe world created by the government. Then slowly things seem to get back to normal but people who were forced to stay on Earth are living in huge nuclear shelters from now on. Nothing can grow nor breathe outside the residential structures that had replaced the former high skyscrapers shattered to ruins
    - Can you live with the weight of such responsibility? I added.
    - I get your point but it has not happened yet so you can’t prove anything with just magic.
    - You’ll dwell with your deeds in a dark cold cell like the one you have thrown me into for showing opposition to your regime. I’m not saying here I’m the victim because it only showed to the world your true face in how you deal with protesters, who are willing to revolt by speaking the voice of the opposition. You’ve gone way too far. So what? Look at it the reasonable way, is it possible for me to stay neutral as to decide of the judgment’s outcome when you’ve been missing with your duties as leader during so many years? But my task is not to eliminate you. I must listen to your reasons and try to weight my judgment by taking the right decision. In other words I’m not here to seek for revenge but to prevent you from doing something irreversible that will cost the lives of many people while seeking for more and more power.
    - Words are not enough to save it all! Are you expecting me to surrender right now so easily? I simply have to push this big red button you know and every life on this world will disappear.  Come to stop the countdown, otherwise you’ll feel guilty not to have intervened on time to avoid another apocalypse!
     
    My life is shattered. Since the Evacuation has ended I’m staying under check with other refugees at the staging area waiting for the government to assign me a new identity and a place to live. We’re keeping track of latest news thanks to the radio broadcasting official reports all day long. Lost in the echo the names of the missing are said one by one like a funeral prayer, either people who went missing or died. In the deafening undersea silence it sounded like a sorrowful broken harmony, a melody of sadness and chaos bringing back memories of our beloved we had forever lost. I thought my heart skipped a beat when suddenly her name appeared in the list. My ears caught hold of this long forgotten woman name like a precious treasure recalling the happiness of brighter days.
    How long has it been?
    In the darkness a face is shining like a fugitive memory of love and trust. We were strongly united like best friends finding support in each other’s smile to keep living. Our hearts collided and became one standing up for the same cause. She presided the student council. I was another student who barged in the school syndicate to raise my voice against the regime. We shared only a few things in common at first, yet our fight was the same, a fight to hope for freedom against injustice. We became close friends, laughing and chatting like there was no tomorrow. She was always smiling but I knew without asking she was enduring her everyday life the hard way.
    I remember the day when we parted. Still today the sound of the official radio is resonating in the back of my head when a bittersweet feeling of melancholy comes to harass me in my inner meditations. I hold tight the keepsake hanging around my neck to stop mourning about a past long gone. Inside the sweet scent of lavender is faint but soothing for my broken heart when I awake in the dark to look at the moon appearing from afar above the surface. Everyone around me is falling asleep after hours waiting for a new life only a few ones will be granted after all.
     
    How could I forget the reason why I was fighting?
    My determination grew stronger when my gaze drifted from Hellmet to the Shovel of Death. I have so little time left to watch the birth of the new world I’m dreaming of. Every minute counts draining my power, my strength as well.
    I take a step forward and extend my hand. Aiming at Fritz a blue seal draws shape over my palm. I feel also the presence of the Lawyer and the Witness at my side. Time’s clock machinery was put into action by the gathering of the four of us. It sizzled and broke apart into shards shapeshifting into an hourglass made of light.
    - Let’s end this war properly. Time itsel will punish you by death anyway for the world to find harmony so I’m ready to carry somehow a fair trial although you’ll not get round of a suited condemnation for your deeds. I hold in my hands this shattered dream you stole from mankind long ago by trying to get control over the flow of time. Of course one can’t erase the past and people will remember what happened but it will only remain as a memory of our mistakes we should not reproduce in order to recover peace. You committed murder against mankind itself seeking for more and more power by scheming to set on fire the ultimate nuclear weapon called the Shovel of Death. You pretended it was an accident throwing opprobrium on a young nuclear researcher who was the perfect victim of your evil plan for the example but you and only you were the mastermind of the apocalypse.
    - But it was not me who pushed the big red button so he has to be blamed for causing an apocalypse by accident! Hellmet responded with an evil smirk.
    - Adding to your circumstances it will aggravate your condemnation for shattering the lives of many people fighting for justice against your regime. You shall be punished to have persecuted without mercy politicians, intellectuals or simply ordinary citizens who became active political opponents to prove mankind was still able to stand for human rights and freedom of expression fighting for democracy against your thirst of absolute authority.
    I look at the flow of time dancing inside the hourglass and added in a lighter voice:
    - As for me, the reason why I returned from death lays in my esteem for the special person I swore to protect long ago as my own daughter at all cost. I’m speaking in the name of every innocent civilian, every orphan child who does not deserve to die by the whim of a power thirsty dictator and his gruesome cyborg made of nuclear energy.
    The Judgement birthed into a giant time clock responding to my summoning. My hand tipped swiftly the hourglass upside down activating its power.
    - Have you anything else to say for your defence?
    - Anyhow my culpability can’t be denied so feel free to carry the judgment as you please.
    - You will have to respond of your actions before a proper justice court mandated by the United Countries Comitee. For now I’m simply asking you to stop the countdown right away for world’s sake.
    - Do you think I’m really going to subdue so easily without fighting?
     
    He snapped his fingers, bringing the Shovel of Death to life. The robot activated the complex mechanism managing its body made of iron, putting its arms and legs in movement. The ground crumbled under its feet when he stepped forward to stand between Hellmet and me in order to protect its master. I gulped of fear despite my foolhardiness when a pair of lifeless mechanic eyes shot glance at me with anger.
    Hellmet chuckled with satisfaction. An evil smirk curled his lips when he spoke again:
    - What now? Will you still pretend you can beat me with that toy of yours that can only make history repeat once again?
    Voiceless in horror, I looked at him holding out a remote set with a big red button on top. I wanted to scream but what only came out were the tears that climbed over my cheeks silently. I could no longer hold them back. I closed my eyes to put my spirits together and think reasonably about my next move. Behind my eyelids a face showed up, like a ray of sunlight. Her smile made me reconsider my actions. I should keep fighting until I obtained victory, or lost the battle.
    - Choosing you to be Judge, what a joke! You’re scared of fighting like always, aren’t you?
    I clenched my fists. When my eyes opened their colour had changed from olive green to bright turquoise.
    - What of it? Strength is not the answer to everything! Do we need to begin another war to understand we should use words instead of fists to make the world to change positively? What kind of future waits for us if we can’t live in peace? Our children do not deserve to suffer because of our mistakes! If you intend on escaping your responsibilities in this matter, I cannot let it pass between us like casualties!
    - Only words!
    Responding to his will, the Shovel of Death moved closer to me, seizing my neck in a single move. His grasp tightened while he lifted me a few inches above the ground, quickly disarming me. I used my last shards of power to strengthen the shield but could no longer hang on. The barrier broke apart, exposing my comrades to danger.  “Spare their lives... “ I whispered in a weak voice. Resisting any longer was draining my life force.
    - Hellmet, listen up you b***d! Marcus yelled.
    Everyone startled. Theodora’s eyes asked him to retreat but he decided to interfere instead, standing next to me and added:
    - You shall be punished right away for your crimes! I’ve been setting up a strategy to save the world from premature destruction, hiding in the shadows for twenty years, but your stubbornness is unforgivable, highly exceeding my expectations! Even when you know everything is over and you’ll be sentenced to jail for the rest of your life, you’re still trying to get round of your punishment because facing your responsibilities, after your thirst of power has nearly destroyed the entire world, is too heavy to dwell with!
    - Do you realize where you stand right now? You’re telling me to subdue to justice but why haven’t you stopped me from achieving my plans earlier?
    - It may sound cheesy but I knew the lives of my siblings were endangered if I fought recklessly head on to take you down the leadership. By watching over the world from afar during the last twenty years, I wanted to protect them, as best as I could, from you and your regime.
    - Speaking of which, you’d be smart enough to stay back, wouldn’t you? You don’t seem to realize what’s truly going to happen if you resent using fists to fight me. I will play nicely and put it a different way for you to understand everything about the sensitive matter you’re currently trapped into for being careless!
    He smirked, gazing at the Shovel of Death with amusement:
    - According to what you told me earlier, you pretend to be a loving and caring father. Right?
    You who survived death have acquired that so desired power too!
    Marcus nodded silently and frowned:
    - What happened in the past must stay in the past. I admit I can’t make up for the choices I made, but one thing I take for granted is my love for my siblings. And so, whatever is your plan for winning the war, you’ll have to pass over my dead body if you dare stealing away from me that happiness!
    Lost in the echo of time lingered bittersweet memories from thirty years ago that Marcus recalled painfully.
     
    Back in time a face enlightened by a warm, caring smile
    By the window a soft breeze carries a sweet flower scent inside the room.
    Preceded by her father a little girl hurried to her mother’s bedside:
    - Mom, are you all right? ~
    - Be reassured Naomi, Mommy is doing fine but really tired because of giving birth so she needs to rest at the hospital a few days more.
    Hearing a stranger's voice for the first time, the little human being between her arms opened widely his eyes, gazing at the child sitting near the bed. “She’s Naomi, your big sister”, Theodora whispered, cuddling her newborn baby tenderly, smoothing the tiny strands of golden brown hair that peaked out on his forehead.
    - He’s so cute! <3
    Marcus laughed lightly with amusement. A gentle smile curled his lips. He sighed, looking deeply at Theodora and put a hand over Naomi’s shoulder:
    - Mommy and I need to talk in private for a moment. Can you please go play outside?
    Naomi nodded but looked over her shoulder at her parents with curiosity when her father closed the door.
    Marcus leaned against the wall wearily, looking with compassion at his wife:
    - Darling, what should we do?
    - Time will come soon enough for our son to learn how to deal with the weight of his fate. Do you really think, as truly loving parents, we should entrust him such a burden to bear with at a young age?
    - Unfortunately, we have no choice.
    - I refuse! Gaining such a powerful ability coveted greedily by the most ambitious politicians will put his life in danger, as he will grow up!
     
    - Move aside!
    Fritz screamed, clenching his teeth angrily. In the line of sight of his weapon was Hellmet who stared at him with wonder. The shears slashed the air like a lightning bolt, chopping off the arm that imprisoned my neck. I collapsed, out of breath, falling brutally to my knees. I felt my father’s arms wrapping protectively my chest. He helped me to stand, smiling with compassion. 
    Fritz took on guard, glancing accusingly at Hellmet:
    - Shall we start?

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  • Nightfall wrapped the assembly room in a soft, intimate chiaroscuro.
    Sitting at one end of the table a man lit up a cigarette looking straight at his interlocutor:
    - I know that it is such a hard decision to make when you’re supposed to feel happy but we have no other choice.
    - I’ve already made so many sacrifices for the country’s sake but I’m afraid this one completely goes beyond my abilities Mr. President.
    - Coming from you whose loyalty to the country has never failed for the sake of guaranteeing the predominance of national interest before any personal objection, this is quite an unexpected answer Minister Kokuboheki.
    Voiceless Marcus remained silent, hands clasped over the confidential folder put in front of him. He sighed heavily eyes mid-closed to fight back his emotion and stared at the sea unfolding gracefully beyond the panel windows.
    - The view is splendid tonight.
    - I will write personally a letter to your wife, showing my compassion and wishing her the best to apology for the pain such a dilemma is imposing to your family.
    Meanwhile speaking he handled over to Marcus a flask containing an eerie, clear liquid hanging at a thin golden chain. “You have to do it”, he whispered, looking compassionately at Marcus. Shattered the young man stared imploring at the President: “Please leave us more time to decide ourselves, I’m begging you ... even I’d be glad to bear the charge of Judge myself if necessary!”
    The old politician studied him carefully, and sighed with weariness:
    - Come to see me tomorrow after the council of ministers so that we can talk in private from man to man. I do my best to serve the national interest but in times of sorrow I cannot turn a deaf ear to the distress of a father caring for his family’s sake.
     
    Marcus extended his hand, summoning all his power to strengten his healing abilities. A light blue aura illuminated his palm summoning a protective shield to heal my wounds:
    - Hang on to life, I’m begging you honey!
    I open my eyes widely, sheltered in his warm embrace. “You’ll be doing fine”, he whispered touching my forehead. “Tic, Tac! Tic, Tac!” The stream of power roaming deep within me activated the unbelievable, complex machinery of time again. It broke the seal and released an incredible amount of blue meth to irrigate my body. Through a cloud of blue mist I saw my father leaning on the wall to find support, physically exhausted. I realize with shock he is suddenly affected by age as though controlling time had stopped him from aging during his twenty years of absence.
     
    One night that decided of everything, sealing the Lonesome’s fate.
    Once again Sen Maa Kloud had given up on sleeping harrassed restlessly by his nightmares.
    The basement was silent. Books drew ghostly figures on the walls, hanging on the shelves like old ripped clothing. Fortunately most of them, but not all, had been saved from destruction thanks to the Lonesome’s activism.
    Light flickered on the walls, illuminating the corridor leading to the library. The door was left half opened revealing a man sitting in front of his laptop at the center of the room. One could assume he was writing, although he was focused on learning coding to hack the Register. It was a confidential document created by the Officials to record citizen’s identities. It decided whichever someone was granted the citizenship of Society or was registered in the regime’s blacklist.
    Another error message showed up on the screen. Stood behind the door Sen Maa Kloud startled when he heard a cry that echoed astoundingly in the silence. Voiceless he did not know how to react at this instant. He remembered at once it was mostly his fault if the Traumatism had happened and clenched his fists angrily. If only he had more bravery to disobey the orders, the bomb would never have exploded and caused the Traumatism.
    - It is your fault for pushing the ultimate button by accident Sen but I’m not a vengeful person. The past is now behind us so that we can only look forward to the future. Crying over yesterday’s happiness won’t bring my beloved Alys back.
    - I shall help you find her in any way possible.
    Sen Maa Kloud gritted his teeth, looking up to meet his comrade’s gaze:
    - It’s a promise, Sempai.
     
    Fritz dodged hastily the bullets aiming for his legs. He walked then started to run faster and faster, throwing his body forward to punch the Shovel of Death with all his might. His anger decupled his strength although knowing he stood no chance against a cyborg as powerful and dangerous as the Shovel of Death but he figured out he was not fighting to take revenge for himself against Hellmet. He was a man who always kept his promises.
    For me whose shattered dream only remained as a distant past, he was ready to sacrifice his life to pay the price of his actions. He sought neither for forgiveness nor redemption because he knew already he was unforgivable.
    His dedication to help the Lonesome by stealing sensitive information for us as best as he could was touching. Even though he did not appear at first to be such a reliable person. He was an independent activist acting on his own to protest against the Officials, serving his personal goals when joining our ranks ten years ago after the Evacuation ended.
    However his loyalty was infallible to me since that night when he realized how much he betrayed mankind by carrying Hellmet’s plan without thinking twice. I’m not a man who cried easily so when I did, it would really mean I was feeling down. Feeling upset by the cruelty of fate that tore up my world to shreds of guiltiness; impossible to forget, impossible to forgive.
     
    It was so sudden and yet her words sounded so regretful. A single message sent on a lonely night that felt the longest of my nights.
     
    “I’m moving on tomorrow with the children to the south part of the country where they will grow up safely. Everything is already set so we’ll not see each other in a while. I apologize sincerely for leaving you so rashly but I had no other choice after yesterday’s presidential speech. I do hope someday we’ll meet again. You were my greatest friend who supported me all this time with your smile and your compassion when I was feeling down. Take care Hitori, please live happy with or without me.  Speak soon, Ashley”.
     
    Days spent remembering, weeks spent waiting and soon the government that spied on people’s correspondence cut down all the communications between the capital and the countryside without warning. I lived dead, swallowed by melancholy.
    I got friends and family to support me in my despair but I could never forget Ashley’s smile radiant like a ray of sun in the darkness of my days. So I learned with time how to forget her to stop living forever in the past but deep inside I held tight grudges against Hellmet for stealing away from me the very happiness of my life.
     
    I watched Fritz and Hellmet fighting.
    Their struggle appeared as a clash of weapons colliding into a storm of light and iron.
    I was not expecting we’d come to battle for defusing the bomb. It caused such a disaster, bringing despair and sorrow in people’s lives that I did not want history to repeat once again. I recalled this dark era of chaos too painfully.
    But Fritz was not an experienced fighter, rather a smart strategist and genuine scientist.
    His attacks were good but it was not enough to beat Hellmet’s brute strength. One hit mischeiviously stronger than all his previous attacks cut through an opening and paralyzed Fritz, throwing his weapon far from hand grasp.
    I collapsed on knees when I saw his body slowly falling onward. He had sacrificed his life to protect mine. His body shimmered, while his time rewinding ability helped his wounds to heal faster. I bent down at his bedside lending to him a bit of my power by casting a defensive shield around his body.
    - This can’t go on forever, I whispered looking up to gaze straight at Hellmet.
    I stood back to my feet, staggering: “Innocent people will get killed if we continue fighting pointlessly”.
    - Said the king after being made checkmate by the adversary side, Hellmet responded impassively.
    He chuckled mischievously, arms crossed over the chest:
    - Can you defeat me?
    Behind his back the Shovel of Death moved mechanically like a puppet, regenerating his lost arm. His fingertips set target on my neck. Five arrows slashed the air but this time I was somehow prepared for it to happen. But none pierced my chest.
    Astonished I froze in shock. Her hair fell back on her shoulders, swirling in the air like a flame. Her hand grabbed the arrows one by one, shattering them to a bunch of tiny lightning bolts.
    - If you take one more step, you’ll have to pass over my dead body!
    - Is that so?
    This time she was the one targeted. A huge amount of brute strength came out the Shovel of Death’s armor at once, blowing up everything that got in the way. My willpower was decupled by my despair.. My body jolted, releasing all my remaining strength to stop the explosion from happening. Time froze, wrapping the world into a blue, shimmering protecting aura. Caught in the eye of the storm the assembly was silenced, stunned by the Judgment’s steadiness able to dispel the explosion. I stood in the mist and wrapped a shield around my comrades but I could no longer hang on, trapped in a fight of contradictory forces struggling to coexist.
    When the mist dissipated, I fell powerless to my knees while time was rewinding.
    I lost consciousness.
    Again.
     
    - Hitori, are you spacing out again?
    “Huh?” I awoke with a start and looked up at my interlocutor, recognizing Ashley’s voice.
    Wooden shelves filled with law books were hanging at the walls. Sunlight fell past the window. We were sitting together at a table on side covered of papers and books.
    My eyes blinked when I recognized the school’s library. I realized with astonishment I had just come back twenty years ago to the time we were living together in collocation, spending most of our free time working at the library.
    - Exams are coming near so you should keep on pace! She reproached me gently.
    Second year is always the hardest; once you get the right work methods I’m sure you can succeed!
    I sketched a pale smile, looking at her with concern. She really had a caring personality, always worrying for me before herself. It feels strange to come back in time, sitting at the same table where we usually met again after the end of classes to study at the library.
    I pictured her silhouette leaning against the border of the window reading a law dictionary. Her eyes drifted from one page to another while her free hand was caressing gently her belly under her summer dress. She had once told me she was going to give birth for the second time by the end of May and regretted she was alone to bring up two children at a time. She used to love a man but actually they parted eight months ago consequently to his irresponsibility faced with the constraints of family life. Whatsoever they barely said hello to each other in the morning for a few years already, since he got the opportunity to work as researcher at the local power station. She was not talking a lot about him who made her suffer a lot because of his absence. He left home early in the morning and came back late at night, exhausted and very irritable so they barey shared time together in private.  He left on mission to the shore time by time, often for six months straight without break and usually sent news to her once in a while. He focused on work to a disproportional extent so she started to wonder if he remembered to have a family that waited for him patiently at home. She no longer considered herself as Ashley Davis and used most of the time her maiden name Wonderland on official papers.
    However she was an optimistic woman who always looked at things on the bright side so she did her best to stop living in the past and look forward to the future.
     
    Reality was fading to a mix of colours and abstract shapes before my eyes.
    When I intended to stand, my body refused to move, numbed by exhaustion.
    - Hitori! Are you awake? Can you hear me?
    I saw my sister’s worried face leaned over me and smiled:
    - Almost alive.
    Hellmet shot glance at me, arms crossed over the chest. The explosion had not managed to blow up but at least deactivate the Shovel of Death. He was spared from talking by Ashley:
    - In ten years you’ll be tried for your deeds before justice. This case will not stay unforgotten.
    She summoned the United Countries Committee’s time portal and looked away at the sun turning red, as nightfall was about to come:
    - You’ve truly become a great man Hitori, but I knew you could do it from the start. Secretly I was hoping we’d meet again sooner because I missed the warmth of your presence by my side. Fate decided for us the contrary. If you ever wish to come back I’ll be glad to wecome you home.
    “I’ll be gone for a while”, I whispered my eyes searching for Alys.
    She has not awakened yet, still lying down inert in her brother’s arms.
    Mikael’s embrace lightened when he saw me kneeling at her bedside.
    Speechless I hugged Alys dearly. Time has come to say goodbye. I know I should erase her memories but I just can’t, looking at her sleeping peacefully as though everything was a dream from the beginning. “Stop crying”, I whisper tenderly to her ear, kissing her on the forehead moved to tears. Her eyebrows frown when her eyes try to open. She gazes at the world around dizzily and sees me. It revives the shine in her eyes. I wonder if she can recognize me. She closes her eyes. I stroke her hair gently letting my hand draw a complex symbol above her head. When she will awoke, she must forget everything about the circumstances of the battle as though I was forever dead however it won’t alleviate the pain of my disappearance. I leapt through time past storms and sunniy skies, cities in ruins and high skyscrapers. Around us the world collapsed and collided into a whirl of light, shadow and colors. Time came to admit she belonged to the living world  “All that matters, fulfil your dreams and you’ll become yourself.” I say compassionately before I lighten my embrace watching the waves caressing her body lying down inert on the sand.
    I sighed of relief when I saw her brother on knees at her bedside. He will be there to stand by her side and protect her when she will be feeling down. At last the world is saved. My mission on Earth is fully accomplished.

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  • The light protecting her body felt warm and tender letting in a pleasant sensation of safety and inner peace to sooth her heart. Her whole being was relaxed. Alys wanted this moment to never cease. Floating ten feet off the ground she slept peacefully wrapped in a shimmery field of energy soft as a bubble.
    Streams of energy were irrigating her arms and legs to make her wounds heal faster. But the most painful and the harder to heal was the hole in her chest, a hole made of despair and loneliness. Her throat tightened. Her whole body ached so violently that she could hardly restrain herself from crying again. Tears kept flowing on her cheeks though her eyes were definitely dry. As far as her eyes could see in the mist there was only nothingness everywhere. The glow around her body extended to prevent her from falling. Loving arms tightened her chest into their warm, caring embrace picking her at the edge of the abyss.
     “Can you hear me Alys?”
    Her heart skipped a beat, hearing someone calling her name out. She was too far from the border to hear words clearly.
    “I wanted to tell you I’m sorry for all the trouble you must have gone through because of my lack of responsibility and I will only cause you more pain by saying you goodbye from today on. I don’t know what more to say at the very last. Just go on, look forward to your future life without living forever in the past. Lessons have to be learned from our mistakes but after a while you have to go on your own and live the life of your choice. I will be watching over you from afar. Do not think it is causing me no pain to make such a decision. We have gone through so many obstacles together and with everyone else. Damn someone who wants to become hero saving the world from destruction should not cry openly like a child, right? Sincerely I am. It is tearing my heart apart to leave you behind without saying properly goodbye but I have to depart from this world without turning back. Otherwise I would not wield the strength necessary to hang on any longer. I can as easily end my life as I’m speaking now because I have the power of controlling life and death but I promised myself to never use it. Go on. Stop crying. All that matters, fulfil your dreams and you’ll become yourself.”
    Arms that were wrapping her tightly let go of her chest. A harsh coldness took over her heart. She was alone. Again. Her eyes opened wide as though she awoke after a very long slumber. At the edge of her eyesight she caught glimpse of fluffy angel wings flapping in the air. Her field of sight narrowed while a disturbing sleepiness took over her senses. A silent blow swallowed her last splinters of consciousness. The world collapsed. She was fading away in the light when her brother’s voice cut through the water begging her to wake up.  He threw his arms around her shoulders pulling her to the surface:
    - Alys, please wake up!
    She felt the sweet touch of sun hovering over her skin.
    She blinked and looked up. Above her the sky was clear, coloured with a vivid flawless blue. Mikael was leaned over her, his face brightened by a caring smile. She thought it was the first time she saw him smiling.
    - We are back.
    She looked around. The sea was calm, only perturbed by the dance of a fleet of seagulls.
    Her inner wounds had healed however still she missed the reassuring presence of Hitori by her side. Despite the happiness and the relief of coming back she just wanted to cry, to lose hold of her emotion.
    Mikael wrapped her inside his arms trying to be comforting:
    - Be brave and everything will go fine. Just pass through.
    - If only I could.
    - Don’t cry.
    They stayed embraced for a while feeling soothed and relieved by each other’s presence, then Mikael set her free and guided her by hand to the top of the dune where Alys met again with everyone. A sweet breeze played with her hair revealing a blue seal tattoed on her nape. The city beneath shimmered like a spark of hope in the sunlight as to celebrate the adventure’s successful outcome.
    - Welcome back Alys, Ashley commented giving her hand to help her reach the dune’s peak and so she offered to Mikael.
    Just standing there together under the sky without thinking twice about the next attack or the better strategy to win the war was so nice.
    The atmosphere was so warm.
    The weather was awesome.
    The moment was magical.
    Yet a tear fell along Alys’ cheek.
    Peace had been achieved, but at such a price.
     
    Isha unlocked the main door of her house with hesitation. More than the loneliness the silence was the worst. Now that everyone had left it felt so empty. Night was about to fall She switched on the lighting and leaned back on her sofa wearily. She lit a perfumed candle but the wild rose scent reminded her of Hitori’s clothes If things happened differently maybe today they were married and ready to raise their family like they had vowed to each other long time ago. Her throat tightened remembering once again the day they argued over their unfulfilled promise of marriage.
     
    A blast of wind from the sea kept blowing playing with the trees’ leaves.
    The sweet warmth, the newly born flowers with their colourful shades transformed the garden into a little heaven. The twilight sparkled magically on the golden sand.
    But even such lovely and peaceful scenery could not make Isha feel happy.
    - I can’t marry you.
    Those words echoed painfully beneath her head.
    - Why?
    - Not now. Someday, if until then we stay together.
    - I still don’t understand. I don’t get the point of waiting the right moment to get married. There is no right moment there is the moment. We have lived together for quite a while now and it is enough to prove we are ready to give birth to our family.
    - We are already somehow engaged by the oath I pledged to you, freely engaged.
    - This is not the same matter as a proposal. I really want to live with you meaning getting married, buying a house, raising children things that we can only achieve together and that give a sense to life.
    - I promise we will in the near future.
    Hitori wanted to embrace her but she slipped out his arms and turned her back to him:
    - We always make promises just like old teenagers. I wish we could have become adults together.
    Hitori walked to her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders:
    - The hero is fairly capable to cross storms and fire only to find you whenever you’re lost and the man loves you dearly,ready to lay down his life for your sake. Isn’t it already enough?
    - I can’t tell.
    He let go of her chest and swirled to face her:
    - What more do you want from me?
    - Whatever I’ll say you’ll manage to do it as a proof of your love for me. Imagine I’d ask you to renounce to your position of Lonesome leader, would you do it?
    She knew where to hit to make him react. He sighed and rubbed his nose edges:
    - Everything else but not that. I hold too much grief towards Official people to just go on and let it pass like casualties.
    - If your feelings were stronger you would have answered yes.
    - You don’t get it. I still love you but I can’t betray my beliefs and my comrades.
    - Being a revolutionary means the government considers you as an outlaw. Outlaws are never welcome in authoritarian regimes. I’m scared at the thought you can either be thrown in jail or killed at any occasion without warning.
    - It won’t happen.
     - Are you sure?
    - Yes.
    - Then the marriage… ?
    - Not yet, not when Hellmet Pitsbulk still holds the leadership of the country. I won’t forgive it to myself if you or our future children were put in danger.
    He pressed his fist against his heart:
    - I would even sacrifice my flesh for any of you.
    Isha smiled and kissed him on the cheek
    - I value sincerity and hold a boundless respect for sincere people. All that matters for me is to know you alive and safe. You’d made me only suffer and worry for you by your foolhardiness to fight them at the cost of your life. I never told you but your oath really touched me. None of my boyfriends from before would have had the bravery to come apologize to me on bended knee.
    She wrapped an arm around his neck and let him rest his head against the curve of her shoulder. They stayed embraced for a while. Then Hitori looked up and kissed his future wife on the forehead:
    - I promise I will bring peace to the country so that everyone will find again hope and freedom. It will be a long and exhausting fight but until then I’m ready to endure it just to offer happiness to all those who miss it.
    - You’ll always find me to support you and stand by your side, whether you succeed or not.
     
    Isha gazed at the crescent moon leaned over the balcony pensively. Between her fingers the candle shined and warmed up her hands, frozen by the temperature drop of the beginning fall. She let it burn slowly looking ahead at the stars almost wrapping the city benath in a magical atmosphere. Rather than a mere candle fading in the night the little flame she protected from the wind might be as well Hitori’s heart, his heart he offered to her long ago at the same time so strong and so fragile like it was going to fade away as a stray of candle smoke in the air. Freshly healed the wound inside the left side of her chest seemed reopened leaving a hole, a hole of regrets and guiltiness.
    She had to go through however. The sacrifice of Hitori had given the start to the revolution. Soon the world was going to change. A new balance was to be found there in people’s will for change. Only if they wanted to no one could force them.
     
    New presidential elections were going to occur soon but it felt somehow unfair.
    Hellmet Pitsbulk was sufficiently influent to tip irreversibly the result and keep the leadership of the country.
    The defusing had only prevented the world from collapsing. But now more people were aware of the upcoming political crisis real scale. New, independent but small opposition movements were brought to life the percentage of protesters over the total population was still so tiny. Although a trial was going to be held by a special justice court mandated by the United Countries Committee to condemn the regime of Hellmet Pitsbulk for war slaughter with heavy circumstances protesters were still scared of retaliation from the transitive government mostly composed of his followers.
    Democracy was possible, not yet, maybe in the near future. People had just begun to manifest in the streets more often but the new government addressed closed ears at their rededications establishing a social pattern especially tense.
     
    The sea sparkled in spite of the ambient darkness illuminated by the shining moon. Alys dressed in her night suit and sat near the window to admire the night. It has been long since the last time she stared at a beautiful clear night sky.
    Finally Mikael and herself were back to Earth and to the home of their childhood.
    But it happened that she had regrets reminding the good moments she had lived in Society. Not everything was bad about her life there: she had met great people like Hitori and Isha and if they had not been there, most likely she would not have gained the strength to continue living without the ones she loved. She had always considered Hitori as a second father back then.
     
    Hid in a corner of the playground Alys was crying. Life at the orphanage felt painful like an everyday burden, the weight of loneliness because she had lost hope in waiting for anyone to take her back home. Her fingers clawed into the ball she was holding into her hands like a treasure: it was a gift she had received for her birthday from Moto Rorola that woman who saved her life. After the Evacuation ended, she had left her to the care of the shelter’s employees. By dint of playing with the ball it slipped out her fingers and slid on the ground on the direction of the gatekeeper’s cat that was roaming around casually. He found a new toy to twist playfully between his paws.
    - Give it back! Alys yelled.
    The animal growled clawing jealously his paws into the ball.
    - Let go - !
    She was stopped in the middle of her pace by a hand that picked up the ball for her.
    - Is it yours? Here take it.
    The words were pronounced softly not like when the cook or the cleaning lady yelled at her when she was late for dinner or bedtime. She looked up. A young man approximately thirty years old, good looking, addressed to her a warm smile. He bent down and placed the ball between her palms:
    - You are Alys, aren’t you?
    He seemed strange but acted friendly: why was he using her real name to address her? Usually everyone called her Sam Suung and it was more convenient that way so that she could live in peace without worrying about the scary men who were said to be searching for her. Nonetheless she nodded, the kindness in his smile and the warmth of his presence were reassuring, proving his intentions were harmless. She had been always told not to give too easily her trust to strangers but somehow he was not the average guy to fool a little girl.
    He looked at her in the eyes, arms opened:
    - Sorry to have kept you waiting for so long, I’m here to take you home. I promise you will never be put in danger under my protection from now on.
    He was the very first person to feel consideration and compassion for her. It was comforting to be sheltered in his arms that were strong and protective.
     
    Mikael found his sister asleep over the balcony cheeks moist of tears and smiled with affection. He knew what she was feeling but had to keep secret the circumstances that led the Lonesome to win the battle. He stepped forward under the moonlight:
    - I’m sorry Alys.
    The young woman awoke with a start, turning back on her brother:
    - Oh it’s you Mik, I was not expecting you to be awake.
    - I’m glad to know you alive and safe.
    - Why is everyone hiding the truth from my knowledge?
    - What?
    - I was indebted by a contract to the Judge for giving me protection whenever I was put in danger, thus I assume that the Judgment of Time has been activated at last.
    - He thought it would be better for you to forget until you were able to hear all the truth, thus why your memories of the battle were erased. Till the end he truly wished your happiness and made me promise to always protect you by giving me the charge of Juror which delegates to me the status of Judge on earth while he travels across the space-time continuum.
    - So it was not a dream?
    - What do you mean?
    Alys turned around to face her big brother, looking up at him with brilliant eyes:
    - I might not remember anything but I take for granted that I have had a near death experience. I’m thankful to whoever saved my life just in time.
    - Be assured that a guardian angel watches over you from afar.
    His arms wrapped her shoulders with comfort, pulling her into their warmth to sooth the stirring pain living inside her heart. “I’m glad you’ve grown up into a fine woman”, he whispered while his fingers touched the blue seal drawn iin the curve of her neck. A crowd of reminiscent memories emerged from oblivion, revealing her the end of the story about the defusing of the most powerful nuclear bomb ever created over history.
    A new resolve birthed in their hearts, although they were yet unable to take on the fight left unachieved in legacy to the world’s will for change by Hitori. A great victory had been achieved but a long waited revolution for freedom was about to begin.

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