• Tauri 31st, Year 55:

    Good and evil, true or false, rise or fall were the foundations of the world only known hanging on a fragile balance between rebirth and nothingness. After the Second Traumatism, nothing was left but chaos. Darkness all around, as if an everlasting night had descended on the universe dimmed into an overwhelming obscurity even concealing the dying stars’ feeble shine in agony. However, the end of the road could be seen from afar, mankind’s hope for renewal, a mass of rock and ice rotating in convoluted circles outside its orbit amidst Jupiter’s remains, named Calisto.
    By the windows a fleet of asteroids sprouted from nowhere, sucked in a supermassive black hole. From the scattering of the ancient solar system was left nothing but a crown of shattered planets gravitating around the Black Sun, a gigantic armoured spaceship.
    “Fall out!” ordered the Almighty One’s shifty voice harshly, so did the soldiers in charge of keeping the prisoner under check. He ordered them to resume their patrol, and turned around only when the last of them had left the room, staring down at the man in front of him:
    - I’d cooperate obediently if I were you.
    A raucous moan resonated from the shadows of a ripped hoodie: “Collaborate my ass” followed by a scream of deep pain when His hand smashed his skull violently into the wall: “Where are they hiding?”

    May 20th, 2055:

    “Act up, never give up~...” while humming Naomi checked her make up and put on electric blue circle lenses. At the wall of the backstage lounge a big LED clock indicated 8pm. “- Guys, are you ready? I want you all on stage in 5 minutes for a last rehearsal before the concert!” the NCL’s manager shouted in the speakers.
    Naomi got used to celebrity but did not like going on stage only to make money even though they had concluded a juicy contract with a worldwide major company. She kept her eyes mid closed, blindfolded by the lights. Her fingers danced on the strings, her voice ascended on higher notes. She felt her heart beat faster as the show was about to begin shortly. A tiny, shiny bug flew weightlessly in front of her eyes, then it vapored in thin air as if it were never born.
    “What was that, an optical delusion?” she wondered, replacing a broken string. She tuned carefully the new chord: “Or bad omen?”

    A little butterfly took flight towards the city’s skyline, crawled through tonight’s traffic jam, landed softly on a wild flower bush, its tiny wings sparkling in the light of dusk.
    - How long will you sit down on the terrace to admire the sea, Marcus?
    - Melancholy, perhaps. That’s how it feels to me Dora.
    - Stop mourning about the past, shouldn’t you?
    - Guess so, Marcus responded, eyes low to conceal his tears. I’m sorry Dora, I’m so sorry... I should have...
    - You should come inside for dinner! Theodora responded harshly arms crossed over her chest. “Oh!” She caught glimpse of something shiny among the roses, a butterfly. The little guy looked like he thrashed about to break free from traitorous thorns when she picked it up between her palms, She felt unexpectedly relaxed for a few seconds, soothed by the sight of its little wings swishing the air. A smile curled her lips as she watched him whirl in the dying sunlight gracefully. Her fingers reached for the thread of blue light fleeting in its trail as if it was going to set off in the time of a blink, with time she learned how to perceive those chords of destiny even without using telekinetic skills. Stupefied she looked up at the tree’s crown then sketched a pale smile:
    - It’s about 8pm; let’s go back inside.
    - You’re being overly romantic sometimes, Dora.

    - This is our last song for tonight, A Lone Bird’s Melody. Thank you for your continued support all this time since the very beginning! Our latest CD’s limited edition is available for sale after the show!
    Naomi adjusted her mike under the assembly’s round of heartfelt applauses. Spotlights set on soft brightness illuminated the stage while steamy clouds of smoke plunged the hall into a blue starry fog. She counted silently one, two, three, four as the mist dissipated. Her nails floated hesitantly on the strings: “All this darkness all around swallows me whole...” Her voice hushed quietly through the speakers like a whisper coming from a past long gone. “All the secrets I’ve been hiding... all the years I’ve been waiting... to see you again...” Her hand slipped off the guitar, her voice faltered on missing words. Her fingers grabbed the mike angrily. Once again, she was losing control, in front of all. Five years were not enough. Breathless, she could hardly hold on the last notes higher and higher, tears flowing down her cheeks. There was no need to hide her sadness anymore. She just wanted to see her brother once in five years, only one more time.
    - You did it again, Nao’ commented Viktor, the recently hired bassist when the band gathered in the backstage lounge after the concert. You sure, it’s fine to play that song knowing in advance it brings back hurtful memories?
    - Watch your mouth Vik, we morally support her but none of us can understand how she feels inside, intervened Melvin, Naomi’s right-hand as co-founder and main guitarist of the Next Century Loners.
    - Geez cut the crap guys! No more fighting allowed between you two! Naomi remarked exasperated. By the way I’m fine Melvin, I have to live on anyway. Thanks for your concern though.
    - You’re very welcome.

    Naomi drove fast across the boulevard by car to a wealthy residential building situated ideally nearby the city heart crowned by a verdant private park. She owned a well-furnished snug flat on the third floor accessible by a glass elevator. Dazed she grabbed a box of pasta in the fridge and poured cold water in a cooking pan then switched on the hi-fi system to play relaxing orchestra music.
    How things have gone wrong so badly?
    She felt relieved that the world had been saved just in time. Yet, it looked like the new world was hanging on a fragile balance, a delusional feeling of safety and comfort. Esteemed economists and politicians independent from the temporary regime established to form a new democratic government in the long term were even worried about the global world expansion: natural resources would soon be lacking to welcome everyone, wars were declared to obtain rights for exploiting arctic snow pits in order to produce water, some developing countries suffered harshly from the global warming always the first victims of major disasters. Ruling over the Federation was the Aftermath Republic, the wealthiest country of the after world influent in both worldwide conflicts and money affairs. There is a place for everyone on Earth if we save on natural resources long enough was their motto, sadly the leading party had their hopes too high even if everyone wanted to believe they were more than simple idealists. Finding safety, guaranteeing prosperity was all people could ever asked for but it was not enough to make them feel happy: they needed something else, something priceless even economical growth and urban development policies could not buy for them.
    Some might say they lived happily in their comfy homes without a worry about their lives endangered anymore, lost in the middle of the ocean, unbeknownst to them, it was just the beginning of the end.

    Tauri 31st, Year 55:

    - Dozing off Livi! Slowpoke, get your ass right there, right now!
    - What’s the matter Sty? You scared me!
    - Breaking news from the Galactic Safety Committee! A fleet of Black Knights is in approach towards Odyssea!
    - War again... An endless circle of destruction and rebirth... why to take arms in order to maintain peace? Zoe Da Livia mumbled between her teeth. Annoyed she hurried through the corridor leading to the assembly room preceded by her comrade the hot-tempered Styx Van Hellson. “They found him.” Styx answered emotionlessly. “You know what it means, right?” Zoe shrugged her shoulders: “We’ll have to fight!”
    - I disagree!
    - Control yourself Lance!
    - Here you go, yet again Styx observed when the two barged in the hall that looked rather like a wild jungle ravaged by a hurricane than a regular council office result of another dispute between their companions, Sylvestre Floralès queen mother of nature and Lancaster Mc Maelstrom weather commander who had the ability to control weather, summon raging storms out of the blue when infuriated as he was now, pointing an accusing finger at Sylvestre:
    - Even trying to negotiate with them is purely reckless! What can we do against a thousands men army armed for war, unless provoking the third greatest loss of humanity? Huh?
    - You know it well! Sylvestre responded. They will...
    - Their goal is clear enough, isn’t it?
    - Come down Lance, Syl, we can’t assert that Chronos is still alive based on mere rumours from their channels! Styx intervened
    - Always late you two! Lancaster admonished them when Styx and Zoe crawled throughout the room among the vegetation. Where’s Judge?
    - God knows, Styx replied coldly. Never there when needed, that’s for sure.
    Unconcerned, Sylvestre snapped her fingers. Around them, wild bushes and climbing plants stopped growing, withered, transformed into a pile of shattered dead leaves before they collapsed to ashes. Then, the companions settled at the four cardinal points around a glassy conference table for their weekly meet-up when all of a sudden a fifth person burst in their conversation, summoned to the audience through a teleportation portal. When the light dissipated, a little fairy going by the name of Faeri Dei stood in the middle of them, her face masked under an auburn veil. She casted her eyes up at the assembly, holding carefully a shiny compass  between her hands, wrapped in an eerie silver dress seemingly too large for her:
    - War is knocking at the door, once again. 

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  • May 20th, 2055:

    Mozart’s Requiem played in the background while Danielle Mc Madonea sat in a long chair on the terrace to drink a cup of her favourite herbal tea, her back resting against a fluffy cushion, her lightless irises fixated on the content of a holographic screen displayed by a pair of thin half-moon glasses she wore for reading since she had started to lose sight gradually from a cerebrovascular accident several years ago.
    Nightfall set ablaze the clouds in a panel of blurred shades at the edge of her eyesight. If only she could turn back time to these days, thought she always when she scrolled backwards her memories library searching in particular for a family portrait in which the three of them were reunited.
    - At the very least, perhaps I should have listened to your advice Mathias, she murmured for herself turning off her electronic optics. You’re no longer visiting me from time to time like you did before Isha, is work really keeping you busy all day long? She inquired without turning around to greet her own daughter.
    - Back then, you denied me the right to live happily ever after like most women aspire to at a certain period of their lives by your selfish prejudices, forced me into assuming a social role that failed to meet my own expectations in order to achieve in your stead the ideal career you never had, why to take back the life you’ve given me!
    - Ungrateful girl, what’s the point in arguing about it over and over as if it will for and ever tear us apart? For all I know, I just attempted to prevent you from following the wrong path.
    - I disagree with you on the fact leading the political opposition is the wrong path to take, Isha objected. My decision had been long and hard even before getting engaged, she added looking at the now meaningless golden jewel pendent at her left ring finger pensively.
    - I doubt so.

    December 21st, 2030:

    On December 21st, winter lurked at the corner waiting to strike on the frozen bystanders muffled in their bold winter coats under the sun barely piercing through the clouds. An icy wind blowing from the north battled the street, tore apart the last autumn leaves from the sycamore trees in its trail. Brilliant, colourful decorations hanged at the trunks, snaked around electric wires, shined at the shops’ frontages, wrapping the city in a soft, eerie, almost magical veil of light but this year none were in the mood for celebrating Christmas. Children strolled down innocently the city heart’s shopping mail from shop to shop with their parents who, as for them, paid attention to their surroundings with carefulness, hurried their offspring through the covered walkways, heading back home faster than usual after their weekly groceries. The official radio broadcasted news nonstop instead of Christmas songs, people walked fast past the office avenue their cell phones plugged to their ears muttering raucously under their scarfs, cars and public transports were riding slow the city’s outskirts, WANTED posters popped amidst the ads panels and the traffic boards: life went on, greyish, stiff, monotonous. A rainy snowstorm started to pour down from the clouds, wrapping the buildings and the urban equipment in a whitish, plain mantel of muddy ice.
    “ - Hurry home before 6pm, right honey? “
    - I’ll get back to you when I’ve arrived at the bus station Mom, murmured Isha looking down at her phone screen when she passed by a group of policemen wearing black raincoats who glared at her wireless headphones suspiciously.
    She rode fast her bike across the academic district from the medicine faculty to the nearest bus station, disturbing the city’s ambient, wintery stiffness, listening to classical music at low volume to stop attracting attention from the militia men in black raincoats rumoured to spy on the citizens from side alleyways. Breathless, she took halt near a bench next to the information board in order to check the departure schedule and sighed heavily with resignation: next was in twenty minutes because of the recent snowfall which had fallen during the night, shutting down most of the urban traffic until the city’s staff men had cleaned up and secured the roads.
    Exhausted, weary of everything for no particular reason, she took a seat on the wet wood, wrapping tightly her scarf around her neck, breathing small clouds of vapour to warm up her hands. She focused her interest on the medicine book borrowed to the library one hour ago for the holidays, checking regularly her watch, almost forgetting the world around her.
    At the second her watch stroke 5 pm, she had never thought a single glance upon your shoulder could turn your life upside down in the blink of an eye and found herself rather amused and frightened by how maliciously the wheel of fate played on her its favourite trick. In the rush of after work activities occurred an unexpected encounter frosted in the coldness of December, at the least proper time, happening most awkwardly along the main street from where the eyes of power were watching out your every movement.
    He sat on the other side of the bench wrapped in a black-grey winter coat, holding a glass of hot wine between his gloved fingers. Golden-brown, rebellious hair strands peeked out from the synthetic fibbers of a greyish cheap beanie, enlightening his forehead like a crown of sunrays. His face seemed to her familiar although she could not recollect his identity. Covered by large sunglasses – by the way, why was he wearing sunglasses at the beginning of winter, wondered she – his eyes looked carefully at his surroundings as if they were searching for someone or, she realized when she saw a squad of policemen in patrol, figuring how much time he needed to run away from the police but it was already too late for him to escape. He turned ostensibly his back on the street his head burrowed in the folds of his large scarf, so that he made one believe he checked distractedly his phone dashboard for new messages, although the uncovered terror in his eyes revealed he was pretending to look with attention at the screen in order to not being recognized by the officers approaching their position.
    - Guess what, who do we have here? inquired mockingly a shifty voice that belonged to their chief of division who eyed on side at Isha, arms crossed over the chest.
    His colleagues nodded, barely concealing their satisfaction. Stern, Isha put a bookmark on the page she was reading, stuffed her book into her backpack and unchained her bike. A slender hand grabbed her shoulder:
    - Aren’t you Isha?
    Pallid, overwhelmed by the fear of being arrested Isha did not turn around, wrapping the lock around the handle.
    - Be careful, a price may have been put on your head.
    She checked the good inflate of her wheels and mounted on her vehicle, keeping her eyelids half-shut:
    - Leave me in peace I have no interest in causing trouble regarding political matters involving governmental affairs.
    - Aw, why are you suddenly so strong-headed? Why don’t you come with us to talk a bit?
    - I did say I have no intention of taking part in the opposition!
    - Quickly said. Come with us.
    The mysterious guy wearing sunglasses, who till then had kept silent the entire time, squeezed angrily his hot wine goblet between his fists so tight that it exploded splattering its red, smelly content on the snow:
    - You dare bothering an innocent woman? He mumbled. What sense of justice is this?
    - Huh, is it me you’re talking to, insolent brat? Has anyone ever taught you to never meddle in someone else’s business? The officer responded in an imperious voice tone to this impertinent youngster who shot glance at him brashly, amazed and angered by his audacity to defy openly a high-ranked officer from the political police.
    “ – What is he thinking about, they will prosecute him for rebellion if he stands up to them any longer!” thought Isha, bewildered by his behaviour.
    Her charming prince wearing dark clothes, standstill, casted his gaze up to look straight at his interlocutor recklessly from the shadows of his sunglasses.
    - Know of your place, young lad, I am the law. Strange that I feel like your face is familiar, who are you?
    - Does it matter to know who I am? Think of me as a casual university student going out after class, that’s all.
    The officer’s gaze drifted from the young man standing in front of him to an advertisement board on which was displayed a research notice picturing a twenty years old law student that strongly resembled him:
    - Is that so?
    - Geez, it can’t be helped. I’ll introduce myself to make things clear between us. If you’re the law I’m the heir of the power.
    - What nonsense is that?
    His interlocutor took off his sunglasses to reveal his olive green eyes:
    - You’ll be greasily rewarded to have captured me alive and your higher-ups will compliment your investigating skills to have found me so fast.
    - What are you talking about?
    - I have to tell them something really important, answered he designating the Wanted poster riveted to the bus coming across the other side of the road. Name: Hitori Kokuboheki. Age: 20. Reward? 100 000$ being dead or alive. This is what the notice says. The one said to be a lazy, careless law student son of the late Prime minister Kokuboheki stands before you and won’t surrender so easily.
    - Stop kidding me!
    Hitori breathed in and out deeply to remain composed but lost his countenance:
    - Do you think I’m kidding? Do you think I would have been selfish enough not to raise my voice when I witness an abusive arrest? My answer is a twice no, I’m not a coward nor an opportunist!
    - Well then the young lady can make her way. But you Hitori Kokuboheki you’re under arrest for being a bothersome troublemaker charged for insubordination and public order hindrance.
    It sent chills down her spine: Isha complied without objection but something went wrong when she rushed aboard her bus, reprobated by the driver for bringing along her bike which she folded in haste and sat down on a free chair in the rear with relief.
    Why was she feeling immensely guilty for escaping safely without rebelling?

    Her family house was a well-furnished, historical two-stairs building built in old stone situated in the very heart of the city, amidst a prominent garden luxuriant even during winter bordered by a row of non-deciduous flower bushes to hide it from bystanders’ view all year long. A small earth path paved with regular flat stones led to the entrance, a tall, engraved wooden door surmounted by a glass gloriette decorated with intertwined Greek caduceus patterns. The keen interest for travelling of its owners made it a comfy, welcoming home filled with a great variety of unusual objects and surprising treasures coming from all around the world, found by chance, discovered, sometimes bought while moving on from country to country. But that evening, Isha passed by them without looking up, put away her coat in the hall’s 19th Victorian style clothing chest, blasted in the living room to say hello and headed right to her bedroom, dropping her head into her pillow to let her tears free.
    She tried to put her thoughts into order but failed, realizing at last she would have been arrested if that young man named Hitori had not intervened to spare her from spending a few years in prison, relieved and scared to be safe and sound for today but this dreadful game of hide and seek with the police would not last forever. She was thankful that he found the bravery to kick against the policemen who were tormenting her but felt a melt of pity and compassion for him who had risked his life for her and was now paying twice the price of his foolhardiness, took in custody for civil disobedience to be incarcerated later after a thorough interrogatory.
    Why, just why it always happened like this?

    May 20th, 2055:

    - Despite your father’s constant reproaches, I’ve been always disapproving your relationship with him for your own sake because staying by the side of a designated outlaw would have continuously put your life in danger.
    - How... how can you say such things without even...
    - I did it for your safety, honey Danielle responded, a faint smirk painted on her face. While you’re here, would you mind serving me another cup of that tea?
    - Sure, Isha responded without a second thought heading to the kitchen.
    “Why am I feeling so tense suddenly?” she wondered, grabbing the half-empty kettle on the counter and a teabag. A shadow took shape in the threshold behind her back while she was looking for sugar in the cupboards. “Who’s there?” she asked without turning around. A wrinkled hand silenced her while slender fingers seized hold of her hips, clawed into her soft skin. She thrashed about to break free from her aggressor, in vain. A disgusting, herbal infusion smelling like humus after the rain filled her mouth till she nearly choked up, disabled her senses, paralyzed her muscles bit by bit, numbed by a strong sedative binding her movements. The ceramic pot she held between her fingers shattered astoundingly in its fall, spilling its content all over the tiling.
    - Sleep well angel, Mommy will take care of everything for you, whispered shifty lips to her ear, the last words she heard before she blacked out

    - Good job Ophideus, remarked the malicious’ voice from the gloom shadows of a tenebrous cloak. I was not expecting less from you anyway.
    - Mission accomplished, eh? Ophideus exclaimed victoriously with a chuckle. So easy, almost too easy, but when she will wake up she will have forgotten everything and everyone she used to know. Holding his queen of heart in hostage will surely make it easier for us to get close to them as soon as they will find out about the matter.
    - But they never will.
    - Of course not.
    The echo of their laughter resonated for long after they left, scaring a group of pigeons who fled away from the balcony’s guardrail in a wing rustle. A cell-phone rang somewhere in the emptiness of the apartment, then the silence came again. Lancaster picked up from the ground a shattered photo frame fallen from the chimney: “Crap!”
    - Apparently, we came too late Styx observed leaned back against the threshold.
    - Damsel in distress, Council of Cosmos to the rescue, I guess. 

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  • Tauri 31st, Year 55:

    - Ophideus from the Black Knights has returned from the underworld, Faeri declared.
    - You sure Fa, is he not supposed to have died during the Great War? Styx objected.
    Faeri’s predictions, whether they augured good fortune or bad omen, often came true but this time, four sceptical glares were set upon her neck, wondering if her sayings were or were not believable, in one or another case, Ophideus’ return from the dead portended another era of doom, which condemned humanity into exile across the universe all over again.
    - Problem, when he’s gone hunting, he never fails to find and kill mercilessly his target. He has proved to be an obstinate mercenary, harbinger of chaos in the past: never, any of his preys have gotten out alive from his fangs once captured.
    - Ah! So? Styx queried and restrained a noisy yawn, leaning back in his chair.
    - You lazy crow, get hold of yourself! Sylvestre reproached him harshly
    - He has set sail to the human world, back to the year of 2055 exactly.
    - Sheesh!

    May 20th, 2055:

    - Gentlemen, are you from the police?
    Styx and Lancaster stared blankly at the dazed-looking elderly in her late seventies standstill in front of them, wondering how to introduce themselves.
    - Nope, however it would be a long story Madam, Lancaster responded with embarrassment, to their interlocutor who glared at them with suspicion. My name’s Lancaster and my colleague’s Styx.
    - Have a seat and tell me more about what’s going on. I don’t even know why and how you’ve got into my flat in the first place.
    - We’re actively searching for the men who harassed you earlier today around the area Styx intervened. We’ve been summoned here to carry on further investigation if you may forgive our intrusion.
    - If so, I won’t hinder your enquiry any longer. Sadly, I can’t be of any help, I do neither remember anything about their looks nor their circumstances. It feels like I’ve just awakened after a deep slumber as if nothing happened earlier.
    - Did they force you to take any drugs?
    - I can’t remember either.
    - Amnesia pills, Lancaster affirmed arms crossed over his chest. Which means we shall come back to the headquarters to report now Styx, don’t you think?
    - I object, we should go and fetch a certain dull rabbit first.
    - Free beings travel out of this world Sty, he surely have his reasons for not coming back, Lancaster commented whilst he casted a second class memory spell on Danielle Mc Madonea before summoning a time portal towards the fourth millenary: “At your service Madam, have a nice evening!”

    July 13th, 2035:

    - Honey, dinnertime!
    - I don't want to eat, Isha responded from her bedroom upstairs.
    Pissed off by her daughter’s misconduct, Danielle barged in Isha’s room arms crossed over the chest. “Haven’t I told you to get your luggage ready by tomorrow’s morning? We must leave no matter what!” she admonished her offspring with eagerness, eyeing on disapproval at her undone travel bag.
    - I’m not going anywhere!
    - We have to talk!
    - There's nothing to explain.
    - There are plenty of other fishes in the sea. You might as well find a better party once arrived at your new faculty.
    - Be the gentle, high-educated wife of the vicinity's renown surgeon from a wealthy family background? Not for me!
    - He'd make you feel much more happy than this ... this ...
    - "This"?
    - Failure of a would-be minister, clowning around when he should be studying to make a name in politics!

    Isha stood up abruptly:
    - I dare you to insult Hitori in that manner! What has he done wrong to stir up your anger and your contempt whenever I talk about him with you?
    - Don't you answer back to me, insolent! You exactly know what's the problem but you keep ignoring my advice till you'll ruin your career stupidly because of a reckless idiot who is not cut out to become a fine politician devoted to serve his country! Put yourself together, you've already got a long list of pretenders head over heels for you to choose from. What on earth is wrong with you, lucky girl?
    - Like I care for money and fame, only to become someone's caged bird in the end. My heart will belong to the one I truly love, whom I deeply trust and respect for who he is provided that he respects me as well.
    - All that matters to me is your happiness, however this guy's only going to cause you trouble, even to found a family, if he constantly gets in the target line of the current government.
    - Who else has the guts to do so?
    - Come downstairs to eat something at least, the meat's getting cold.
    - Later', I have to work on my PhD's bibliography tonight if you don't mind.
    At eleven when the streetlights were all extinct and the weather had cooled down after a stifling hot summer day, Isha put her work aside and came to the balcony from where she could admire the bay extending beyond the crown of the trees.
    “Bzzt~” Indifferent she let her smartphone keep on vibrating inside her pocket till the screen turned blank after a few seconds. She would have to leave too, sooner or later, better do it here and now, she stated to herself looking with nostalgia at the city below.
    Her dashboard displayed a new text message when she checked her phone back inside: “Things’ alright, dear?”
    - I’ve ... I’ve made my decision ... I ... I should leave town ... by tomorrow...
    Entangled in the blankets, Isha held her pillow close to her chest like a shield, curled up on the bed’s edge: “I’m sorry Hitori ... I’m so sorry!”
    - Knowing you safe and sound overseas is my sole redemption.
    - We never shared anything in common! We never got to live together like any normal couple of our generation! Back then, why have we started dating in the first place, I wonder! she screamed at him, on the verge of crying. Contrite, he kissed her nape with tenderness, his hands caressing lightly her shoulders: “Let... let me go” she stammered between her cries, turning back on his dazzling olive pupils which implored her to stay for the night.
    - If I had to, I’d lay down my life for you.
    - It does not make any sense if we can’t fulfil our engagement.
    - I promise we will, whatever it takes.
    - The members of the government were not that stupid by co-opting Danielle and Mathias Mc Madonea today’s greatest physicians in order to assess their leadership. One issue remains, if you decline their offer, you’re sure to be registered in their records as the first public targets, which forces you into exile to escape the dark pits of jail. As their daughter, I’m also at risk so I’ve made my decision. This is probably the last time we see each other in a while.
    - I swear you’ll be forever safe by my side.
    - Only words.
    Hitori’s grasp around her chest lightened, letting go of her waist. He looked blankly at the ceiling for a few seconds: “Do you consider me as an untrustworthy person that much? If so, have I unnecessarily endured the worst for saving your life when you were in trouble against those policemen, huh?”
    - Egoistic conception of love. You did what was right to do in the context of an unjustified arrest for questionable motives by the police, that’s all. There is no point in arguing over it again and again, Isha whispered eyes low.
    Her face clouded over: “I wish I had not to leave.” She could feel his heart pounding against her nude skin when he wrapped his arms around her breasts. This time, she could no longer fight back, overwhelmed by emotion when he laid his head on her clavicle. She felt her resolve to depart tore up to shreds at the idea of being forced to run away for her life, abandoning cowardly the one she loved so dearly on the side of the road, a path they were meant to follow side by side.
    - Come over there, Hitori whispered compassionately, drawing her close to his torso under the blanket, kissing her on the forehead: “If anything, I can’t afford to live on carelessly if I know my loved ones in danger.” Isha nestled her head in the curve of his throat with a pale smile: “Stop playing the hero you’re not in the end” she responded clung to his shoulder blades, their lips bounded together by a passionate goodnight kiss before they fell asleep in each other’s embrace like young lovebirds going out on a midnight date for the first time long after had rung out the curfew.

    Tauri 31st, Year 55:

    Cries. Shouts. Threats. Around her only obscurity remained behind the bars of a four-wall cage, trapped in the anteroom of hell. All to be heard were soldiers’ footsteps trampling down the basement. The sound of their chatter blasted painfully through her eardrums, from afar their jeering laughter resounded strangely sarcastic in the wholeness of the silence. Dissociated pictures, nameless faces flew before her eyes unsubstantial as if these shards of memories did not belong to her, meaningless, holding them prisoner behind her eyelids before they vanished into void, that fearful numb feeling that paralyzed her body and hindered her soul. However, a recurrent dream resurfaced every time she intended to fall asleep in which she met with a faceless stranger who yelled accusingly at the soldiers who tormented her, himself held prisoner by police officers at gunpoint. Every time she awoke abruptly screaming, cheeks overflowed by remorseful tears unable to recall his name. Every time the memory of him faded in the distance, unreachable. She felt dizzy attempting to put her thoughts into order, gradually lost notion of space and time as if jailed inside the black depths of the underworld: “Who am I? Where am I?” Find the answer to these questions obsessed her mind for some reason provided I seem to be in great danger and so I shall get out by any means she thought for herself, trying to break free from her shackles to no avail.
    - Don’t even try.
    She startled at hearing someone else’s voice for the first time since she had recovered consciousness. “Someone?” Her own resounded so light and feeble, almost extinct after a long and deep slumber. “Welcome aboard to the future, princess.”
    “Eh?” When her eyes accommodated to her surroundings, she could perceive an old man’s silhouette leaned back against the opposite wall. “Shame we can’t even introduce ourselves properly.” She crackled a pale smile: “At least we’re together in trouble.”
    He let out a raucous laugh, pointing a fingertip at the ceiling: “This pit’s the Black Sun.”
    - There’s really no way to escape?
    - Fool, want to die?
    - Not yet, I guess.
    - Then, all we can do is hope for this dumbass to come and rescue us just in time.
    - You must have tight grudges against that person.
    - Back then, he pretty messed up things to a point of no return!
    - That’s how you ended up down there, I suppose?
    - Partly yes. Let’s talk about you, why would they capture and hold a damsel in hostage?
    - God knows, I wonder about it too!
    Her interlocutor shrugged his shoulders: “They must have unreasonable motives.” His eyebrows furrowed over his lightless anthracite irises. He clenched his fists with resignation, looking down at the ground: “Mockery!” he mumbled between his teeth angrily. The silence came again, interspersed by his rowdy snores.
    “Lucky girl, you’ve got to spend the rest of your days with a weirdo as sole company until someone’s going to save you from your misery” Isha remarked with bitter. “Be glad you’re still alive for today!” he retorted while sleeping.
    Once arrived aboard Odyssea, Styx and Lancaster summoned their colleagues for a crisis meeting:
    - The Party has indeed declared war to us. Knowing our strategy, they’re attacking innocent civilians to make diversion but their real goal is quite obvious, find out Odyssea’s location across the universe in order to kill any opposition to their leadership in the egg, Lancaster affirmed.
    - In other words, the thousands of exiled earthlings sheltered aboard Odyssea, including us, are in imminent danger of extinction if we remain obstinately neutral by avoiding battle as much as possible, Styx observed leaned back in his chair.
    - That’s because we cannot sustain another Great War whatsoever, Sylvestre objected.
    - It’s even more troublesome if they modified the past in some way, Zoe added.
    - Humanity will be decimated once again if we don’t intervene, someone observed.
    - Back on radars, you slacker! Styx responded harshly to the newcomer without turning around to greet him. “Styx, you better...” Sylvestre growled between her teeth, interrupted short by Zoe. Lancaster shrugged his shoulders wearily. Faeri remained silent as usual, expressionless. She looked pensively at the stars beyond the panel windows of the council room then the glassware destiny holder between her hands that emitted a faint blue light from time to time.
    - Let’s hope to be awaked soon by the light of dawn.

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  • May 20th, 2055:

    - Why only me?
    Emotionless in appearance, Alys cried from inside. Between her hands glowed a silver pendulum suspended at a tiny chain. She focused her attention on the Oriental rug that decorated the living room to avoid Hitori’s concerned eyes. She was supposed to feel enthusiastic after this memorable birthday party. But grief overwhelmed every other feeling, stole away the joy of their long-wished reunion.
    - This is a charm to keep you safe while I’m gone.
    Alys looked at it shining in the curve of her palm, conscious that even a priceless jewel from coming times was unable to grant her most ardent desire.
    - Back then, why did you erase my memories from the battle?
    - Although you have endured many hardships, all your actions are emotionally driven. You’ve been growing up under my protection for almost ten years and considered me as your second father. In return I had to erase your memory in order to hurt you less,
    If I took the wrong decision, I deeply apologize.
    - Everyone knew, except me.
    - Come to your senses, you should not be crying Hitori reproached her gently.
    He took her between his arms. She freed herself from his embrace briskly.
    - Protect the widow and the orphan... fight in the name of justice ... spread the word of goodness and wisdom around the world... what for? When the show ends ... the almighty hero... becomes again... the irresponsible man... doesn’t he?
    Speechless Hitori stood up from the couch to admire the ephemeral beauty of nightfall beyond the window:
    - You’re surprisingly a quite good judge of character.
    - I’ve gone through a lot the last fifteen years.
    - You were only ten years old when the Traumatism occurred, you had a life full of hope and opportunities ahead from you, unlike those who had lost everything they possessed and everyone they loved, forced to run away at any cost from their homelands. But, at the age of ten, it is normal to feel profoundly attached to your siblings, which made you believe nothing could ever separate you from your mother and big brother, even a nuclear disaster, yet it happened for real.
    - I knew all this, however it did not alleviate the pain of loss.
    - Well, it can’t be helped unfortunately.
    - If only we could redo the past.
    - You must go on.
    “Easy to say” Alys thought for herself.
    Remorseful at the idea of abandoning his loved ones twice Hitori came outside on the terrace to breath fresh air, what did not succeed to make him feel better. He readjusted his glasses pensive:” Think of it as a farewell. We probably won’t meet ever again”. Reaching eternity implied to make sacrifices in order to alleviate the sorrow of the living you leave behind Faeri said. He knew exactly what she meant. His heart raced inside his chest at the thought of it, at the realization they saw each other for last before his departure from the nowadays world to a distant future.
    He glanced at the silver ornament he wore at his left ring finger:

    - Soon the world you used to know will come to an end.
    Alys shrugged her shoulders:

    - Politicians like to debate about it over and over. It makes no sense to me. What if a meteorite suddenly crashed somewhere on Earth? Or rival countries kept waging war against each other for a mere puddle of fuel? Causing another cycle of disaster? Life would disappear from Earth in seconds, annihilated. Let’s live as long as we can on what’s left of this dying planet, like there was no tomorrow: we’re condemned anyway since we reached a point of no return!

    - It could have been prevented from happening in this period of time.
    - How?
    - You who know everything could not do anything? Do you try to escape your responsibilities once again? Mikael screamed from the threshold.
    Alys assumed he had been eavesdropping their conversation the whole time without interfering. She adjoined him to calm down, however it only made her brother angrier:
    - Do not forget that you are a man before all so you must bear responsibility for your actions, you who pretends to be a supernatural being able to leap through time at will, unable to protect his loved ones!
    Silent, Hitori did not turn around. One could read indifference in his cold gaze while he stared blankly at the rising tide. He then looked at the silvery hourglass tied around his neck. "Already?" he wondered as the last drop of blue meth inside it reached the other side. "It cannot be real ... " He did not believe Faeri's words when she intended to convince him that the Chosen Ones no longer belonged to this lowly world once they endorsed the burden of their abilities.
    - Let's not get too emotional, ok?
    He then summoned a portal floating ten feet off the ground In a swift hand move and took a deep breath: « You’re right Mikael, I probably am a coward, but I shall comply with my duties as guardian of the past, present and future even if it so breaks my heart to depart for last and forever. Because ... "
    - Because you are supposedly some kind of hero able to save the world in the next thousand years! Stop kidding me, you're nothing more than any human being to whom was granted a destiny you were forced to embody against your will!
    - The laws of the space-time continuum are strict. One can only judge on what has been done, not what is to be done. Convince those who can make society change for the greater good accomplish their destiny. You know what it takes when you're faced with the true face of a world decaying over centuries due to atrocities committed by mankind itself!
    - I disagree. There are no chosen ones, there are simply us! Even though we are merely pawns on the universe's exchequer, great people can make great things happen!
    -That's a childish point of view to think you can bring back peace without conflict.
    Mikael's eyes were burning red, drilled on his interlocutor:
    - You still don't get it?
    - Get what?
    - When a disorienting feeling of emptiness engulfs you whole when you're all alone in a foreign society led by an authoritarian oligarchy, there is no longer hope. Fear dictates your choices and actions. You can only wish that a kind soul will come to take you home someday.
    - Do not judge on circumstances too quickly. I did what felt right to my consciousness.
    Mikael flinched involuntarily before Hitori's coldness. It felt like, for once, the man let out his personal concerns before his so called duty and this was rather unexpected from him whose sense of justice prevailed over his heart, putting his life in the line to save everyone and the world around from destruction whatever might happen next.

    July 13th, 2030

    Like thousands of citizens running away from the capital, Ashley and her offspring left home at birdsong without a look back after the Minister of Defence's speech last night.
    "Ashley!!" That morning the central train station was unusually overcrowded as if people were running across the hall for their lives towards the railways. "Ashley!!" She did not pay attention and kept walking forward, faster and faster, until she almost started to run.
    -Mommy, who is that guy yelling at you? Mikael queried with anxiety.
    -Hurry aboard angel, we're already late!
    -Ashley, wait! Listen to me!
    Ashley took a halt.
    -There is nothing but friendship to unite us. I'm glad we met and became close friends. It proved me that I should not lose trust in men. Sadly, our paths shall part here and now because I want Mikael and Alys to grow up safely outside the capital.
    -Will you be okay travelling on your own by roads and mountains with very young children?
    -I have made my decision long ago. Ever since Fritz and I broke up to be honest.
    -Then, there is nothing I can do to make you stay I guess.
    -Be well and take care, I hope this is only a goodbye, Ashley pronounced in a lighter voice as she jumped inside the train. I wish we'll meet again someday, somehow Hitori.
    Voiceless, the man stood still for a handful of minutes while the train to the south faded in the distance, only then turned around, Meanwhile on the road to the coast, Ashley was curled up in a corner of the cabin, crying her eyes out over their forced separation. But she had no choice. There was something she had not told Hitori. He had a life full of opportunities to look forward to. He could easily find a special someone to share a flat together in the next five years. Her was the mother of two little birds at twenty-five, compelled to run away because she would be soon targeted by authorities for taking part actively in the opposition. She did not want Hitori to get involved in her affairs with the government in power: she knew he would put his life in the game just to save hers. She admired him for his bravery, although she called it recklessness.
    Mikael witnessed the whole scene, puzzled. Ashley swiped away her tears and sketched a faint smile: "No worries honey, Mommy's sad to depart so suddenly."
    -He's strange.
    -That guy.
    Ashley rolled her eyes with reproach: "Don't judge a book by its cover too easily Mikael!"
    -He loves you, right?
    -Why do you ask?
    -If he truly loved you, he would have come with us, no?
    Ashley shook her head: "Love is not an easy question to deal with." She took her son between her arms comfortingly: "You can't understand how it works at your age." Memories of her relationship with Fritz unexpectedly resurfaced. She fought hard to hold them back. Her feelings had been deeply hurt, she no longer planned to get engaged with anyone from now on. She once had stated to herself she would rather live alone for the rest of her life than marrying another man who would let her down for the sake of his career just like Fritz did. She watched over her nestlings tenderly while the countryside unfolded quickly by the window. Her life was going to take a whole another turn outside the city that gave her birth although she did not feel scared. It felt like a new beginning to let go her past and restart a living from scratch.

    May 20th, 2055:

    Later, Alys and Shinichiro reunited online for the first time in three weeks since Shinichiro went on report overseas.
    " - You okay, sweetie?"
    She ducked her head into her pillow to hide her eyes red from crying.
    He sketched a faint smile:
    " - Cheer up, has something happened?"
    - Nothing serious Shin, really...
    His girlfriend intended to smile: " You know me all too well, am I so easy to read?"
    " - You make that grumpy cat expression when something goes wrong."
    Alys laughed at Shinichiro's joke without enthusiasm. At the time she needed most to be comforted, he was away on trip across the world. She regretted that the professional constraints of a reporter's life compelled him to leave home every few months. More than five years of relationship had been meaningless. She utterly wished that she was not going to reproduce the same mistakes as her mother's, getting engaged with a man who was never there, unreachable, only a ghostly silhouette in the distance whom she waited on at home, forced to embrace loneliness as her sole company. This is notably the reason why she never got to meet her father in flesh and blood, which she learned to accept with time.
    - To make my 25th birthday party memorable, Mikael had invited a very special guest to join us. I don't know what to feel about it. I'm thankful for his attention but sad in the meantime.
    " - That idiotic brother of yours is always up for the stupidest things. I hope he did not make you cry again!"
    Alys harboured a pale grin:
    - He cares for me like a mindful big brother watches over his little sister.
    " - What a jerk in my opinion!"
    - I'd rather say he knows how to cheer me up in the hard times.
    " - I am deeply sorry to not be there to wish you happy birthday in person. Be good and if anything drags you down, feel free to call anytime. I wish I would be by your side more often."
    - You applied for it.
    " - I could not let this amazing opportunity to boost my career pass, otherwise I'd still be sitting behind an impersonal desk writing articles for local newspapers on a day to day basis!"
    - I know, Alys nodded.
    " - I gotta go sooner than usual today, see you online tonight. Happy birthday again angel, take care until my return!"
    The screen turned blank. Alys logged off from her voicemail account with a weary sigh, an unpleasant feeling of loss suppressing her joy to have turned 25 a few hours ago. She outstretched a hand outside her blanket to switch off the lights and lied down in bed with the impression they already had had this argument so many times before. She even began to wonder if their relationship could withstand their forced long-time separation. She used to think quite naively they were meant to be heavenly matched. It left her to live with bitter memories of the caring boyfriend he had been at the beginning, always there to give her the support she needed. Maybe it had been all but a teeny love affair and they were unable to admit it. Lonely and sleep-deprived in the lovebirds' flat at midnight, she felt betrayed by the one she loved, abandoned on side of the road to happiness.
    Feeling downhearted brought back sorrowful memories of the hopeless times. Instead of giving in to nostalgia, she got up and walked to the terrace to admire the clear night sky.
    -I can grant your utmost wish, whistled a whiny voice behind her back.
    She startled, caught off guard. She dreaded at the idea someone might have intruded her apartment. No one. She stated to herself she must be hallucinating. A cold breeze sent chills down her spine. She went to the kitchen to pick an instant coffee cup in the fridge. Cappuccino: her favourite one to battle against exhaustion when she had to stay up late past midnight. "Come on girl, there is nothing to worry about!" she admonished herself. "It must be a mere consequence of your wild imagination." Having said that, she dipped into the obscurity of the stairs leading to her bedroom when a sleek-textured material brushed against her shoulders. She cried for help in vain, a sticky liquid filling up her mouth. She used her last strength to fight off the drowsiness that invaded her body bit by bit. She caught glimpse of her aggressor whose face was hidden from view under a black-hooded cape. He harboured a devilish smirk:
    -Want to jump in the future?
    She groped for her bearings, losing her senses one by one. She thrashed about to break free on attempt to defend against her assailant. Her limbs no longer obeyed to her brains. She clung on to the striking pain that irrigated her forearm.
    "What are... your intentions?" she articulated in a weakening voice. Her field of sight narrowed as if the world had been switched off. "You don't need to know anything." someone retorted. She then realised she was deadly trapped, by who, for what motive? She lost consciousness before she could even figure out the answer.

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  • Tauri 31st, Year 55 - Black Sun

    Only a name: Isha. Maybe hers. She was bothered by the fleet of ladies in waiting and servants who gravitated around her, annoyed by their obsequious attention. Some brushed her hair meticulously; others adjusted her dress to fit perfectly. Such beautiful dress ornamented with gemstones! A masterpiece of lace and velvet, decorated with pearl-black feathers and onyx stones, sewed for a queen. She took a look at her surroundings, mesmerised by the beauty of this place, luxurious museum filled with priceless artworks. Majestic paintings that glorified the conquest of the galaxies by the Empire overloaded the walls. Her feet sunk into the fluffy carpeting weaved of silver and gold wool. Speakers attached to the ceiling played chamber music in the background while maids titivated her to her fingertips.
    But whom she saw in the mirror was an ordinary-looking woman dressed up like a princess from a dystopian fairy-tale. It made her feel uneasy. She whisked away these concerns in a blink. She should not let her guard down. Everyone's gazes were set upon her every action. Moreover Ophideus kept her on watch from the threshold, armed to the teeth, ordered to shoot on sight if she attempted anything to escape the Palace.
    - You may come in, His Highness the Almighty One is waiting for you.

    His reception hall was even more colossal. Its fabulous columns of black marble were imposing. Closely escorted by Ophideus she admired in awe the hangings embroidered with intricate cosmic designs while she crossed the pathway to the throne. The Emperor himself was sitting under a canopy, hidden by a curtain of silk. A satisfied grin curled his lips as they approached:
    - Good job Ophideus!
    The lizard-man nodded with compliance:
    - I just followed through your orders Your Highness.
    - I was expecting no less from you.
    The reptilanoïd dipped into a bow and left the room backwards, then the monarch focused his attention on the goddess of beauty standstill in front of him. Drilled on her forehead his lightless pupils were skimming through her memories from her early childhood to her life in Society, including her years in college. He had not the right to intrude her mind she thought at the realisation his mind-reading abilities allowed him to know everything about her. It no longer mattered to her that much either. She was starting to lose track. It felt like this distant past that kept harassing her was carried away from grasp bit by bit, until it vanished.
    People, whose faces lingered on in her mind, whose names she had forgotten, were waiting for her return. Where to? She reached out to them as their silhouettes disappeared one by one. She was left alone. From now on she was nobody but the sovereign's property. She no longer belonged to anywhere given that she had nowhere to go back to. Her identity, if she ever had any, had been wiped out.
    - I bid you to become mine and only.
    The sound of his reedy voice throughout her mind snapped her back to reality. He held her chin in the curve of his palm. Took by surprise she thrashed about to break free only to realise she had no longer the ability to move. She was trapped. Her arms and legs under someone else's control were no longer responsive. He tightened his grasp. Her lungs gasped for air. She nearly choked up. “There is no escape” he conjured between his teeth chuckling deviously. He drew her closer to him and pressed his lips against hers for a forced kiss, his fingernails clawed into her skin:
    - Outside death awaits the reckless.

    On position near the threshold he had witnessed the whole scene from a distance. He harboured an emotionless face like his colleagues to conceal his true feelings. He pitied her condition. During the time they spent in prison, he got to learn more about Earth and attain a better understanding of its inhabitants. They had fought to save their planet until the end, united in their misfortune. Her had a fulfilled life to look forward to: dreams to accomplish, marriage plans to make after the disaster, a career to take further. She was passionate, courageous and caring. She used to be in a relationship with someone she held in great esteem. Her love for him knew no boundaries despite the fact they were going to be forever separated. He was surprised to find out that Judge was the lucky one. A zero rather than a hero, he remarked. The ways of Fate were so impenetrable: he was definitely not cut out to endorse the charge of Judge.
    Anyway he thought about it, more he thought about it more he felt obligated to help these two thrown across the wild universe without any knowledge of the current going-ons, unaware why and how they got implicated in the raging conflict between the Empire and the Insurrection. He cleared his throat and bowed slightly when Ophideus walked past the door. He should be more careful. He would get arrested and sent back to jail for having these unleashed thoughts.

    Tauri 31st, Year 55 - Somewhere in the universe, far and beyond our galaxy

    A roller coaster of shapes and colours flashed behind her eyelids when she recovered consciousness. Her head ached violently. Dizzy Alys looked at the world around with astonishment when she got accustomed to her surroundings, She was retained in a spacious yet denuded and windowless cabin without any ornaments except an imposing LED screen. She was held prisoner by nerve-stimulating shackles that suppressed her ability to move. It forced her to keep calm and composed even in compromising circumstances for her survival. A scar could be seen on her right elbow where a syringe filled with strong sedatives had pierced deeply her skin to the blood. Her empty stomach craved for food and water. Alys felt extremely exhausted as if she had just run an Olympic marathon. She groped for her bearings inside this unfamiliar environment. Just plain walls of stainless steel built in one piece and a huge LED screen on sleep mode hung at the wall. Suddenly, crackling and drilling sounds awakened brutally the young woman from her state of drowsiness with a start. A humanoid assemble of rusty gears associated with the finest nanotech to this day popped in from nowhere, carrying a tray filled with unknown fruit species and colourful test tubes which Alys stared at with a melt of stupefaction and disgust.
    - Bobbi Bot at your service. He was told to keep an eye on you. Ask him anything you need.
    Alys wondered if she was going to take part in a crazy adventure to save the world again She would like to lead a relatively quiet life far from the major concerns of a decaying society after everything she endured wishing to reach someday happiness. Make a successful career in journalism, marry the one she truly loved to raise a family, enjoy life to the fullest like there was no tomorrow. Reality stroke when a shadowy silhouette wrapped in a dark cloak took shape near Bobbi Bot and switched on the screen in a finger snap. He picked up a pink-reddish coloured litchi from the tray, harbouring a friendly grin:
    - Glad you're awake milady, you've made it to the fourth millenary successfully!
    Puzzled he stared at her from head to toe: “ But choosing you of all candidates, the ways of destiny go beyond understanding!” Clueless about the situation, the concerned had not spurted a word out yet. She began to admit the drug injected inside her body must have seriously altered her ability to reason with lucidity. It seemed that she had been transported to the thirty-first century without her consent. She remembered to have been abducted meanwhile she went back to bed in the middle of the night. Then she recalled to have been tossed in and out an endless tunnel like a bundle of clothes in a washing machine. Thereafter her mind went blank.
    Pensive, the being standstill in front of her was munching on his genetically-modified litchi with content. He had been glaring at her with stupefaction for several minutes, which she found especially ill-mannered. Intrigued she took a closer look at him. His skin looked sunburned as if permanently damaged by long exposure to UV rays. Silver-white strands peeked out from his hood. Slender fingertips peeled another of these pinkish fruits carefully to appreciate their slimy texture. Alys shot glance at him to make her presence known.
    - Why me in that case? she queried.
    He spitted out a few litchi stones:
    - Truth is you have been entitled as the wielder of a special ability out of many people who have once survived a NDE, thus why us Guardians must give you our protection.
    - All right, why don't you set me free to begin with?
    - I shall explain you a few things.
    - It would be very much appreciated if you could tell me where I am and what the current year is.
    - Don't fret too much about it, all things will come in good time.

    - Let's introduce each other to begin with. I go by the name of Taurus, Second Guardian out of twelve. Yours is Alys, right?
    - Even if it were, how did you find out?
    -By skimming through your memories, I was able to carry further investigation about you. You were born somewhere in the Western Hemisphere during the Era of No Return, which is how we nowadays nickname the twenty-first century. You and your companions got accidentally involved in the first Traumatism trying to prevent the explosion of the Shovel of Death from happening. In the end you only made it worst for future generations who had to survive during a never-ending cycle of chemical wars generated by the hands of Pitsbulk's followers later known as the nationalist party! They reigned over the Aftermath Republic for the next forty years before the rebels took them down the throne. During that time they cut their ties from the rest of the world: the country was ostracised by the United Countries Committee from the worldwide union, shattering to pieces the hopes of citizens yearning for democracy. All because of you!
    - We used to think it was the best solution to make society change for the greater good. We were revolted by how turned out the construction of the new world, how the government took advantage of the events to assess their leadership at the risk of compromising people's freedom of speech.
    The promised land they bragged about when the Traumatism occurred, meant to welcome survivors after the tragedy, seemed at first an undersea paradise where one could restart a living from scratch six feet under the surface. Only then, as the years were passing by and society was slowly reconstructing itself, it appeared that appearances had fooled the layman's eye and it became very hard not to get prosecuted by governmental officers who spied on your every movement and your every action in order to kill any form of opposition in the egg. Thus you had to submit wholeheartedly to their authority for your own safety, otherwise be shunned from the community and sent to jail after you had been tried before justice for the supreme crime, acting against the President.
    - I object, it did not allow you to come back to the past on attempt to prevent the first Traumatism from happening. I assume you know the almighty rule that legislates the space-time continuum, don't you?
    - Yeah, I know.
    - To make it short you have been brought here by the whim of destiny, he said.
    - Great! I guess I will have to complete a special mission or something before I can return to my time, won't I?
    - You get it right. Well, except the fact that you will never be the same person again, in many ways.
    - What do you mean?
    - Whenever someone survives a NDE long enough, they no longer belong to the mortal world. Which means you've reached what is called eternity. For the better or for the worst, semi-immortality is not necessarily the afterlife mankind has been longing for.
    - Does it mean... I am dead?
    - Yes, somehow. Better go on and leave your past behind to alleviate the pain of loss.
    Wearing only a soft silk shirt over her bras and light jeans gave her the chills, which alarmed her interlocutor who ordered Bobbi Bot to get her some warm clothes at the laundry.
    - What if I decide for myself that I refuse to get involved in this... intergalactic war?
    - Laughable, you don't have any choice once you've stepped in battle you know. Whether or not you volunteered for it.
    - Heck if I knew that I would lose my life so easily for a cause that greatly overwhelms my understanding!
    Taurus pulled out an heavy sigh: "You whimsy earthlings are quite annoying peeps."
    - What makes you think so?
    - By his deeds this troublemaker of a judge has not redeemed my opinion of you all!
    Bobbi Bot's entrance cut short their argument. He bowed to Taurus with respect:
    - Bobbi Bot has found a wetsuit and fresh pants for the young lady as you ordered him.
    The Guardian did not look away while Alys was dressing up. She blushed of embarrassment. Was it insane curiosity or carefulness? He surely had not been taught how to treat ladies like a gentleman: "Who do you think you are?" she growled between her teeth as he glared at her in an offhand way. "I have been told to keep an eye on you at all times. As a matter of fact, I will ensure that you won't intend anything to escape until we've arrived to destination."
    - Hang on a minute... are we moving?

    - Silly, you've embarked on our spaceship!
    - Wait, where are we going then? Alys exclaimed.
    - Ready for a return to your origins?
    Behind his back the screen lighted up to show a crown of shattered planets revolving around a wide black hole that concealed any ounce of light. Looking closely it appeared to be a gigantic spaceship established at the centre of an ancient galaxy, protected from meteorites and asteroids by a thick magnetic field. "It used to be your so precious solar system." Taurus declared. "And this is the Black Sun, den of the Black Knights who rule over the Confederation".
    Speechless Alys stared at the remains of the Milky Way for a handful of seconds before she burst in tears, unable to believe the impossible. " You asked for explanations, you get it." Taurus commented. "Come to your senses, there is no reason for you to cry!" Alys did not speak as if she had been emptied from inside, lifeless. Then Taurus pointed a fingertip at a conglomerate of gas, rock and ice floating amidst the chaos. It apparently had strong volcano activity at its surface. An unwelcoming territory, Alys thought.
    - Not quite, Taurus retorted arms crossed over the chest.
    Confused Alys raised an eyebrow, caught off guard by his remark.
    - I can read your thoughts, the Guardian replied. Let's get back to topic, shall we? Its name is Calisto, one of late Jupiter's moons that was looked upon as a potential motherland for extra-terrestrial life by scientists a couple of centuries ago. However it has not been proved ever since that Calisto is soon to be inhabitable.
    He made the picture spin to a different angle. A three-floors cruise ship the same size as, if not bigger than the Black Sun stood in the middle of the Jovian system, where was previously located the queen of the planets. Smaller aircrafts popped in and out its holds equipped with long-shot weapons. Taurus nodded at its robust architecture:
    - This is Odyssea.

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