• Geminorum 1st, Year 55 - Odyssea

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

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

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

    Geminorum 1st, Year 55 - Nebulae

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

    Geminorum 1st, Year 55 - Odyssea

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

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


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  • May 21st, 2055: 

    Dusk wrapped the camp in a vivid twilight that tainted the sky in purple and red. Refugees were gathered around a bonfire to keep their skeletal frames warm for the long night to come. Done in, Shinichiro let out a noisy yawn and switched on his holopad. He logged in his favourite instant chat host with enthusiasm. No incoming call from Alys however. He stared at its blank dashboard with anxiety. She made the promise to contact him everyday. Did something happen to her? He tried to convince himself there was nothing to worry about but something did not feel right. She was supposed to be having lunch with her colleagues right now. Her profile’s status indicated "No Signal!" She could not be localised by any means either. His hands trembled uncontrollably out of panic. She must have gotten in trouble. If it were true, he would have to go through complicated procedures in order to retrieve her whereabouts. Bradley Strauss, his colleague from Worldwide News, took a peek inside the tent, worried by Shinichiro's sudden unhappiness:
    - Are you okay Shin? Let’s meet up with the locals for dinner, they have cooked a feast to celebrate our departure! Don’t you want to come?
    - I... I have a lot on my plate to finish for tomorrow's edition of the New World Telegraph...
    - C'mon you overwork yourself mate, have a well-deserved break for once in three weeks!
    - Deadline is up by midnight. It's the end of me if I don't complete my report on time.
    - My, my homesickness it is called. Never mind my invitation, I'll let you brood over your concerns while we're having fun!
    Bradley gone partying, Shinichiro tried to contact Alys again. No answer back. The call button turned grey, unresponsive. The young man dealt a violent blow on the pad: "Dammit!"

    Shinichiro ruminated over and over these dark thoughts while jotting down ideas to structure his report appropriately into paragraphs. His eyes were concentrated on the page he was writing as if nothing else mattered. Outside resonated the guttural voices of the natives who sung traditional songs. Shinichiro looked up briefly from his typing software to have an overview of his work so far and switched off his tablet. His mind was unfocused on the purpose of his essay. He worried for Alys much more than he expected to. She had grown up. She was no longer the highly sensitive 15-year old girl he met ten years ago, although she tended to cry easily when she felt upset. But looking at the woman she had become, one could tell she had gone through a lot, which strengthened her will to move forward in life to the next obstacle, even if the scars of the past were still burning red.
    Enduring that much pain in a lapse of few years could have broken apart any human being. Her had embraced loneliness and loss as her everyday burden during the time she lived inside Society's battlements. He admired her for such abnegation and pitied her condition at the same time. He used to love her and care for her like a substitute brother rather than a boyfriend.
    Everything was different from now on. They were engaged to each other by a strong love bound. They were no longer irresponsible teenagers striving to survive in the wilderness. They both had expectations for life and career opportunities. Soon they were going to settle in town once he was back from travel overseas. A smile curled his lips. These past ten years of relationship had been a blast. They had shared good times and gone through hardships side by side. Now was time to set in stone their commitment. He had great plans to make her 25th birthday memorable. Bradley popped in harbouring a wide grin. He held out a plate filled with raw fish snacks:
    - Doing well? Have some traditional foods from the countryside!
    - I am running out of time to send in my report at the due date, apologies for not taking part in the feast like I should; thanks for inquiring though.
    - C'mon bud, it can wait a little while longer, no?
    - It cannot, unless I plan to get myself fired.
    Bradley noticed that Shinichiro's hands were trembling uncontrollably, his fingers clenched into his holopad on sleep mode. He slipped in the tent and sighed:
    - Dude, what's wrong with you tonight?
    At first Shinichiro hesitated to answer directly. He did not like to talk in public about his private concerns, unless with close acquaintances. He wanted Bradley to leave him alone and go enjoy the party. Looking up at his partner he saw consideration in his eyes and averted his gaze from his, embarrassed at the realization he was so easily readable.
    - I... am feeling unsettled about my future, he avowed.
    - You have already earned quite a reputation among the freelance community in the lapse of five years, what more can you ask for?
    - I wish I could reconcile my blooming career and my discontinuous private life for the better. I am on travel here and there every few months so I haven't managed to build anything serious with my soul mate until now and it bothers my mind to think we could have lived together happily ever after like most long-time couples do. I fear we are going to break up or we have already done so.
    - Be ready for that. I used to be in a distanced relationship with a sexy chick who lived overseas, despite of which we trusted each other. We met again once in a while when I was back from report. However, we made promises that we could not keep. One day I came to see her, she had moved on to the city heart where she shared with another guy a snug flat closer to her office.
    - I suppose you never spoke to each other again?
    - Indeed, just because we could not get engaged in the long term.
    - My story is a bit different from yours in the sense we have been dating each other since our fifteenth birthday and I feel like I should not give up yet. Knowing her for that long, I don't think she would run away from home all of a sudden without an explanation.
    - I feel for you lucky man and I hope the best for the two of you. 

    Later when everyone was asleep after the celebration, Shinichiro awoke with a start to the vibration of his holopad buzzing for a couple of minutes. Past midnight at the clock. The moon had begun to descend when he crawled discreetly outside the tent. An hologram of Mikael sprouted out from the screen when he pressed the call button. Alys' brother looked spectral: his hair unkempt, his eyes swollen from exhaustion after a rowdy night. He did not make up a smile:
    " Have you got news from Alys?"
    - I have been trying to call her several times since yesterday’s evening but she never replied to any of my queries! Do you have a clue on what is going on?
    " - I don't know. Sure thing is that she is nowhere to be found!"
    - Have you checked the position of her cell phone? Or even tonight's police registries?
    " - Something goes off. I can locate her phone on an unknown network that answers back to my requests with a no signal notification. Data cannot be accessed either."
    - What are your thoughts about the matter?
    " - Let's not jump in unfounded conclusions too quickly."
    - But Mikael ... she might be in danger right now!
    " - Whatever has happened of her, or might happen next, I can safely assume she won't end up getting harmed under any circumstances;"
    - What makes you believe so with that much conviction?
    " - She is blessed to be born under an auspicious star, genuinely loved."
    Shinichiro knew what he meant and acquiesced. So Hitori had returned from the wonders of the space-time continuum. But it made him feel more anxious than relieved. Hitori held between his hands the power to judge space and time: as such he could foresee a world’s tragic decline. Were times to rejoice of the recovery and the victory against the nuclear industry over? Or had they ever occurred? A corrupted world hindered during two decades by a raging war of interests between an authoritarian regime and a worldwide pacifist committee could hardly mend its scars in the lapse of five years.
    - So why has he returned?
    " - In the preliminary years of the fourth millenary, from 3050 and forth, Earth has been irreversibly annihilated and humanity forced into exile across the universe. The death of our planet could have been prevented in the current period of time if the inefficiency of the transitory government had not given political scope for Hellmet Pitsbulk's followers to found the nationalist party."
    - Does not an almighty rule that applies to the course of time say that no one shall alter the past, present and future? Because if Earth is destined to end at the beginning of the next millenary then there is nothing we can do to prevent it from happening anyway: in other words we're condemned.
    " - This is one's pessimistic point of view made into believing our critical lack of resources and our industry portend the premature coming of the apocalypse. On a brighter note, while we're alive, let's make this world a better place to bear with our suffering."
    - If so, what about Alys? Why is he coming back only now to meet again with her?
    " - God knows. He did not tell me more than you already know about his mission to 2055."

    Geminorum 1st, Year 55 - Odyssea

    One could easily lose notion of space and time between Odyssea’s iron walls.
    However, as to replicate day and night, artificial light bulbs paired to intensity potentiometers were attached to the ceiling in order to indicate the hour. Alys rested in a spacious cabin next to Hitori's inside the Council's quarters. She sighed of relief after this tormented night that had brought up a whole new set of events. She was about to set sail on adventure again, against her will nonetheless. But she was not officially accounted yet as Seventh Counsellor. She would have to go through preliminary examinations first to prove her worthy of that charge conducted by the members of the Council themselves. A white and gold jacket and assorted warm clothes on which were embroidered planetary patterns had been carefully folded and placed in a glassy chest of drawers next to her bed.
    She resented accepting it as her new place to live despite of its futuristic appeal. From now on she could not get back to her reality and shuddered. It felt like she had lost her loved ones for the second time. Furthermore she was going to witness their disappearance one by one in fifty years or so what made her feel even more depressed about her condition. She missed Shinichiro's presence by her side to give her support. They were going to be forever separated. They would never be able to meet again although they had yet so much to accomplish. It made her feel guilty to know he was going to suffer. Behind her back the door slid open smoothly:
    - Are you feeling better? A familiar voice inquired.
    The sound of his gentle tone, reassuring, calmed down her torment and swept away her fears for a while. She lied on her back to stretch out her muscles: "Not quite." Worried Hitori walked across the room and sat on the edge of her bed: " I am sorry, it should not have happened that way."
    - Truth be told, I am scared.
    - Anyone would be, he nodded.
    - If only I could go back as if it were a mere delusion born from my wildest imagination.
    - Unfortunately you can't, this is no longer possible to battle in retreat.

    - Your full name and age? Lancaster queried
    - Does it matter for you to know?
    - We ask the questions, you answer them.
    Time-confused Alys stood still in the middle of them under their inquisitive glares. She casted her eyes up defiantly on intent to keep composure in front of her interlocutors:
    - Can you please tell me what is exactly the purpose of my mission?
    - All things in good time, Faeri intervened. First tell us more about you.
    - Well I am Alys Wonderland, freshly 25, born in 2030 during the Era of No Return. I have grown up inside Society's battlements as I struggled to survive separated from my loved ones after the Traumatism.
    - Have you taken part in what we call nowadays the Final Countdown?
    - I am not sure to understand what you’re talking about. What is it you call the Final Countdown?
    - You dare to ask? You’re quite ignorant about many things, don’t you? Styx exclaimed.
    Sylvestre shot glance at him: “Calm down Styx, of course she does not know anything about this part of Earth’s history yet, she has just been transferred to this era of time!”
    - There is no reason for you two to be constantly fighting, if there is any you may deal with your personal grudges against each other in private and not disrupt today’s session, Lancaster admonished the fighters. Let’s get back on track, shall we? The Final Countdown, otherwise known as a major event in Earth’s history, occurred in 2050 when a group of pacifists leapt through time back to July 14th, 2040 to prevent the Shovel of Death’s explosion from happening on attempt to rebuild an agonising planet from its ashes. But their mission failed lamentably even if their intentions were praiseworthy. By modifying the future they made it even worse for future generations who lived under the dictatorship of the nationalist party composed of Hellmet Pitsbulk’s followers during forty years what irremediably affected the balance of the worldwide political pattern.
    Uneasy about the topic, Alys assumed they were testing her honesty given that they, as supernatural beings, must have the ability to read minds. It seemed that, in the world of the fourth millenary, to gather as much valuable information as you could was primordial to survive. She weighted her words before she took the floor:
    - I cannot deny I have. I must say that our motives were all but altruistic. We thought it could solve partly the world’s ongoing crisis at the time. We had not considered yet the consequences of our actions. We might have engaged too brashly in war against the leading classes, revolted against an imperfect system in many ways.
    - Sure you did, Styx nodded.
    - Was it necessary? You admit that you indirectly sacrificed many innocent lives without a second thought, Zoe observed.
    - The world started to recover slowly from its wounds in the beginning years of its rebirth. The past lied behind us; we could only walk forward to learn from our failures. Hope soothed our broken hearts. Did we know that forty years from 2055 we would provoke Earth’s downfall? I don’t think so. We used to think we acted for good.
    - Your reasoning is quite interesting and well developed, which weights in your favour. But, considering the charge bestowed upon you, you’re required to possess a supernatural ability out of this world’s standards. You don’t seem to have any.
    - It has yet to be awakened.
    - Why should we accept you in our ranks, then? Styx asked.
    The question disarmed Alys who had no reason to give for her presence there given that she did not know what her mission consisted in. She noticed that a young girl wearing a silver dress gazed at her with attention. Nervous, she clasped hands in her back and cleared her throat:
    - I don’t know it myself. Having survived from a near death experience has become a part of the woman I am today. I have suffered a lot, much more than a regular human being would thus why I am an emotionally driven person most of the time. My willingness to go forward is my strength, to have gone through many hardships.
    - Styx, I am sure that God always makes decisions with reason and equity, we may have to find out ourselves why he sent to us a mere human being, Faeri intervened.
    The Counsellors agreed, even Styx with unconcealed resentment. His showed contempt for the human race intrigued Alys, which made her want to know more about him despite of his pushing character. The concerned shrugged his shoulders:
    - Sometimes the ways of Fate are unpredictable.

    “ I want to go back now!” Alys thought with bitter while staring at her reflect throughout a daylight mirror. This white and gold uniform weaved of pure gold looked eccentric, heavily embroidered, but fitted her body shape quite well. She buttoned her jacket to the top and combed back her hair in a ponytail, then turned around when Hitori knocked lightly at the door. She rushed to get her last preparations done and wondered how did she know he was coming, an extrasensory intuition maybe. He sketched a gentle smile: "It suits you pretty well." Alys acquiesced, eyes down: " It feels like I'm dressing up though." He let out a burst of laughter and preceded her outside: " Don't you worry, there is a first time to everything."
    Once every week, the Council held a consultative assembly with the citizens of Odyssea for anyone to speak up. Comprehensive communication between the masses and their representatives was the key to maintain harmony inside Odyssea's battlements, as Hitori explained to Alys while they hurried alongside the corridor leading to the lower floors. Most Odysseans lived humbly, worried for the coming times in which an end to their misery could not be seen. The Confederation itself was hardly recovering from the consequences of the Third Great War. The conference took place in an immense auditorium. One by one the Council members seated at their respective chairs feared and admired at the same time by the crowd gathered in the front most terraces. Murmurs spread among the audience when Alys sat down at the farthest end of the stage. To be the center of attention made her blush involuntarily.
    Faeri stood up and cleared her throat:
    - We have a lot to discuss today: shall we begin?

    May 21st, 2055: 

    Mikael was reading the latest online edition of the New World Telegraph stretched out on his sofa when the electronic device tied around his wrist he used as regular watch started to giggle vehemently. Its touch screen shined alternatively from bright red to ocean blue. Fritz's custom-made time capsule incorporated in its machinery had stopped working for long. Why did it suddenly go on rampage? The light intensified as he tried to take it off, in vain. If it had willpower of its own, it would not bulge. "What's going on sweetheart, where's this light coming from?" His girlfriend Dyna stood in the doorframe entangled in her pyjamas, half asleep, looking at Mikael with wonder. A blindfolding ray of light surged out of thin air, which opened an interdimensional portal. Inside of it boiled darkness itself in its elemental state. His eyes widened in shock and horror as he felt forcefully and unstoppably attracted by nothingness, then an extraordinary vision of the Milky Way unfolded before him. The view narrowed closer to the solar system, or the remains of a fallen galaxy, dimmed in eternal night. The thought of it sent cold chills down his spine. Amidst the chaos stood a gigantic cruise ship redesigned to travel across time and space at light speed like in science-fiction blockbusters around which gravitated an indefinite mass of asteroids. “Mikael! Hey Mikael!” Dyna’s voice yelling his name snapped him back to reality. A striking pain radiated throughout his forearm due to the explosion of his watch shattered to splinters of plastic and metal. He remembered to have seen a gigantic spaceship lost in the middle of space before he blacked out. He took off the destructed device and came to the couple’s bathroom to bandage carefully his wounded wrist, clueless about what had just happened. He lied down in bed with the feeling something went off with the time capsule he held in the curve of his palm. He would have eventually to ask its inventor for further user instructions, which annoyed him greatly. Fritz Davis was the last person on Earth whom he would ask for help.


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  • Geminorum 1st, Year 55 – Odyssea 

    " O Father, what should be done to end these days of misery?"
    A heady scent of freshly burned incense floated in the air. A young nun dressed in a wide silver tunic knelt upon a fluffy carpet, hands joined in prayer: " They are dying by thousands, decimated by starvation and illnesses, chased after by the Empire's vessels..."
    " Heavens have agreed they shall be punished for their incurable greed Priestess."
    " I refuse to think they must be annihilated for the sake of the universe's balance!"
    " Naive child, they condemned themselves to a point of no return by hurting and exhausting the planet that gave them birth."
    " They were desperate in their struggle for survival... barely had peace been concluded between the most influential federations... that a cycle of natural disasters ravaged continents in a lapse of few years."
    " All because of them and their insatiable thirst for expansion. You must bear in mind that they caused their own decline by destroying their motherland. But, if you so wish to save their miserable lives, I will entrust thee with a task."
    " That's... that's not what I meant! I..."
    In his palm shined a flask hung at a chain of pure gold inside which boiled a translucent liquid: “ Thee shall travel back to 2010, back to when it all began.”

    Traffic jam roared below. Her auburn hair flew in her trail while Faeri leapt from one building to another at great speed in a graceful choreography. The sun was setting down. For a handful of seconds she admired the late afternoon sky coloured in purple and red. Her fingers clawed into the priceless pendant of crystal hung around her neck. She should not lose sight of her mission's objective. A couple of kilometres away from her position, her eyes caught glimpse of a wealthy mansion built at the heart of the city whose luxurious garden, adorned with flower bushes and fruit trees in abundance, offered a path to the river.
    Crowned by verdant vegetation stood a property of brick and stone amidst this green haven of serenity preserved from the urban hassle by the venerable shadows of a centenary oak. Jazz music played throughout the windows, which added to the calmness of this warm summer evening.
    A woman in her thirties read a book on the terrace, stretched out on a long chair. A little girl burst outside and ran to her mother with enthusiasm: " Mommy, Mommy dinner is ready!" The woman laughed lightly: " Did you prepare it with Daddy?" The child harboured a wide smile: " This is a surprise!" A man, her father, went out the kitchen: " Please behave yourself honey, let your mother in peace when she needs time for herself" he admonished his daughter. Bathed in sunlight, he cuddled a sleeping angel nestled between his arms. The more Faeri dived into their peaceful and carefree world, the more she could not help to empathize with them to whom God had reserved a ruthless destiny: soon he would steal away from them their right to happiness.
    She took flight towards the business district with a lump in her throat conscious she was going to commit an irredeemable act: “ Right must be done, for the better or for the worse!”

    “ Wishing you love and prosperity, and plenty of wonderful moments together!”
    Faeri blinked, awakened abruptly by the sound of the tocsin, entangled in her half-slips. She reminisced the early days of her priesthood with sorrow. Her argument with the Divine brought back regretful memories. She cringed at her forty-five younger self for standing up to God with such disrespect. No one ever dared to contradict his teachings, may they endure eternal banishment from the Temple of Fortune.
    Often at night, these reflections came to harass her in her dreams. She kept remorse at bay until she choked up at the idea she could have prevented the worst from happening. By the window nightfall wrapped skyscrapers in pitch darkness. She faced the country's most valued individual who stared at her with incredulity, holding between his hands the essence of the space-time continuum contained in a flask. The man entrusted with the nation's destiny doubted he held the course of the past, present and future in the curve of his palm. " Guiltiness is a vicious backstabber,” she thought while she rushed to the council room just in time for the session.
    - You seem unwell lately Faeri, is something wrong?
    Faeri startled and looked over her shoulder: Zoe walked towards her direction. Embarrassed the Priestess turned around: " Nothing for you to worry about."
    - Your heart is conflicted, darkening as the threat of war narrows. Moreover there is a great pain you can't get over with.
    -Mind your own business Zoe.
    - I’m just trying to help you!
    - No, thanks: I am fine with my consciousness.
    - Do you? Listen Faeri: whatever displeases you, you should not brood over your concerns alone. You would rather lock yourself in your basement than confide to anyone.
    Faeri kept her eyes half-shut to hide her uneasiness:
    - I am worried about the coming of another Great War, that's all.
    She made the Council’s gate slide open; Zoe grabbed her wrist: " Wait!" Emotionless Faeri broke free from her grasp: " I need to shoulder this burden by myself Zoe. I am sole responsible for the disaster that caused the demise of humanity. I should have followed through God's orders without objection, instead I failed to complete my mission and deserted the Temple."
    - What made you reconsider your vocation?
    - In my right set of mind I could not let a child's life be stolen, even for world's sake!

    - We're encountering a serious issue.
    - I'm barely surprised, Styx observed.
    - Let me explain the situation in further details. Clearly their lack of offensive strategy is a blatant declaration of war. They expect us to avenge Chronos for the dishonour of banishment, only to give the deathblow to the rebellion afterwards. They might even use him as a diversion to lay their hands on us. But this is not the real problem. If it were that simple, we'd already have mobilised enough troops willing to battle. The omens portend the recreation of the Oblivione dynasty from the endeavours of a woman old enough to give birth to an inheritor.
    - To know that sooner or later your predictions always come true worries me Styx intervened. Basically, it means we're doomed. Excuse me while I go to present my sincerest greetings to God in hope for his forgiveness.
    - Faeri you mean, is it by chance related to the incident that occurred yesterday evening? Lancaster queried with anxiety. If that's the case, we must take in action whatever might come to us.
    - The oldie! Styx acquiesced.
    - Styx, her name's Mrs Mc Madonea, Lancaster hissed between his teeth.
    - What are your conclusions about this matter you two? Faeri interrogated.
    - Namely Danielle Heartfield, widow Mc Madonea, 75, lives away from the city in a quiet house of flats. Retired at 60 from the esteemed scientist circles due to the sudden death of her husband Mathias. Entrusted to the care of her only daughter after she almost died subsequently to a cerebrovascular accident from which she will keep irreversible sequels, Lancaster explained.
    - They have been in bad terms for a long time due to old grudges, Styx added. She leads a relatively uninteresting life in appearance. Having introduced her, let us explain what happened yesterday evening according to what we've found out about their circumstances.
    - Like you had predicted Faeri, Ophideus the traitor has returned from the underworld stronger than ever before. He has been sent on mission to the year of 2055 by his higher-ups in order to find and capture a Chosen One, unbeknownst by the concerned, who had been localised somewhere on Earth in possession of the power to rebuild worlds from their ashes. Which undoubtedly sparked the interest of malevolent minds willing to expand the Empire's territory to infinity and further. Their objective is set upon acquiring new lands in order to redeem their influence over the Confederation.
    - It has not been proved there were other forms of life beyond the border, Sylvestre objected
    - They believe so.
    - Rumours saying that there are extra-terrestrial tribes out there are nonsense, given that another planet able to welcome life just like Earth has not yet been discovered. Not to mention human colonies established inside the Milky Way are affected by neutral status under protection of international law: if they overlook pre-existing treaties this is a blatant declaration of war to the Galactic Safety Committee who won't whisk away the matter like casualties this once.
    - War again, Zoe concluded.
    - Basically they used Mrs Mc Madonea as baitfish to trap her daughter into their nets by taking advantage of her vulnerability.
    - I haven't heard of an eighth Chosen One out in the wild, what's so special about her? Faeri queried.
    - They acted fast and found her before us; it is all that simple.
    - This is not what I'm asking for Lancaster. If my interpretation of the omens is right, we'll be encountering great danger soon enough because of our reluctance to attack.
    Lancaster pulled out a heavy sigh:
    - I know right. However, of a kind-hearted soul, they have made a ruthless Empress envied for her incredible powers and her mesmerising beauty: the perfect pawn.
    - And the hapless victim of greater going-ons, Styx added. You already know that the Almighty One's strongest assets are his mind-control abilities, which he uses to erase people's memories in order to keep them under his leadership.
    - One reason to think we should save her whatever it will cost us is that I saw in Lady Danielle's memories a woman of two faces, a headstrong physician who lives up to her ideals and loving spirit who wishes for long to get engaged with the one she loved to found a family despite of her mother's refusal, Lancaster developed hands clasped over the table. Last thing but not least fact, they have quite a complicated family background. One can't bear the sight of the other, although obligated to visit her, because of an old dispute that sealed their irreversible separation.
    - Does it weight in her favour or disfavour? Faeri asked.
    - She was in a love affair with someone Lady Danielle disapproved. It aroused fire between them, not to mention the lovers were forced to break up for that reason. It deeply affected her personality. A pragmatic and composed person, she turned into an emotionally driven character easily manipulated by anyone willing to make use of her sensitivity to better trap her.
    - You quite overstepped your boundaries Lance, didn't you? Styx objected.
    - If it were a teeny adventure, I would not have carried out further investigation about the matter Styx. It appears that we're encountering a much more serious issue.
    - What kind of trouble? I haven't seen that look on your face since Chronos' kidnapping has been officially rededicated by the Black Knights.
    Lancaster leaned back in his chair: " Two birds with one stone, Time and Immortality would be a perfect match for the Empire to take down the Confederation and rule over the space-time continuum."
    - Wait, what? Who was that chick's suitor back then?
    - If the Empire has abducted them, we shall come to their rescue!
    Six looks focused their attention on Hitori. Him usually impartial and collected was overwhelmed by anger and anxiety, as shown by the Judgment boiling red inside its silvery container. Lancaster waved a hand at him with reproach:
    - Calm down your spirits Judge, let’s not jump in conclusions too quickly.
    - What of it? We must move in action, whatever it takes! Is it not the purpose of the Council to maintain international peace and security across and beyond the galaxy?
    - If we trespass on their territory, it will cause a fourth Great War, is that what you want? Mind your brashness, we cannot afford to lose more of our troops! Styx yelled.
    - Have you no sympathy? Have you forgotten what makes you human? Hitori bit back.
    Styx clenched his fists and shot glance at him:
    - When you’ve lost what’s most precious to you, you can no longer trust your own kind!
    Sylvestre interposed herself between the opponents:
    - Whatever happened, seeking for revenge consumes your life force Styx! Why to wallow in a desperate quest for the truth, when you cannot go back in time to change anything?
    - You don't even know what you're talking about! In your lifetime, you’ve endured half the burden I had to shoulder on my own! You don't know me well enough to judge me too quickly on circumstances!
    He did not like to talk about himself nor his past, Alys noted. He lost control when his emotions took over his apparent coldness. " You don't know anything,” he uttered between his teeth. He appeared to be underneath a loving person who cared for his cherished ones. A great pain, what pain, enchained his heart filled with bitter and angst against the human race. There was a traumatic event he was unable to get over with. " Huh?" He took a quick look around at the room with anxiety. His eyes were burning with anger when he stood up from his chair: " Who is the intruder? Who dares to skim through my thoughts?" Lancaster frowned: " It must be the mere fruit of your imagination, or you are a patented paranoiac, be assured there is no one else than the seven of us in this room Styx!" The concerned raised an eyebrow. He shrugged his shoulders, sat down and shot glance at the assembly: " Never mind. I take it that someone must be in possession of extrasensory or advanced mind-control abilities, just my intuition." Having sorted out this issue, the reunion went on about the best strategy to defeat the Empire without causing another worldwide conflict for the sake of the Confederation's welfare. Not everyone was concentrated on following the course of the debate however: unfocused, Alys meditated about the earlier incident that left her puzzled. She might be the one who caused it. She briefly had access to Styx's mind, unable to hold back her curiosity. She saw through the intervention of his memories a latchkey lone wolf traumatized by an arduous adolescence away from home, which outlined that there was more than meets the eye behind his aggressiveness. " Be more careful in the future and learn how to dyke up the source of your newly acquired powers" she thought to herself.
    - Do we all agree on a thoughtful intervention? Lancaster asked. Have you anything to say in regards to the matter, Alys?
    Interrupted in the trail of her thoughts the young woman looked confused, which did not go unnoticed by her interlocutor who crossed arms over his chest:
    - Were you even listening to what's been discussed during today's session?
    - If by thoughtful you mean that we should think twice before we act, it will lead once again to a status quo where both sides expect each other to attack first, in which case a head-on conflict is inevitable, she replied. With the support of the Galactic Safety Committee, we'd be able to mobilise troops from all over the galaxy, willing to revolt against the Empire but outnumbered in men and weaponry to do so. I agree to intervene strategically, nonetheless we should move in action at some point in this cold war between the Black Knights and us. On a different note, we should work together under the same flag to make the universe a better place to live in, you better not forget you're a human being too with his strengths and weaknesses all things considered Styx, despite of the fact you've acquired supernatural status by reaching eternity.
    The concerned clenched his fists out of anger:
    - How dare you...
    Lancaster cut short their dispute, his eyebrows furrowed in disapproval:
    - Beware whom you're talking to, better not say out loud what everyone think inside.

    - Styx might seem to be a blunt individual; he's a loyal comrade during battle though.
    Alys looked up from her meal. A silver-haired young lady holding a plate of synthetic vegetables took a seat in front of her and harboured a friendly smile:
    - If you have any trouble adapting to your new life in these walls, feel free to ask for help. Understanding is the key to overcome culture shock, snatched away by force from your homeland. We all went through the same wonders. You'll get used to it pretty fast if you come to accept it as a new beginning instead of a duty forcefully bestowed upon you.
    - I was far from expecting I would embark on a whole new adventure across space and time a few days ago. I have little knowledge of what's going on, moreover I don't even know what my mission consists in, be it orchestrated by whomever rules heaven up there!
    - In this era of time, it is commonly admitted that nothing happens by chance. Whether or not you're a believer, God is watching over his children with justice and equity from above, seconded by Fate.
    - If so, why has the Council been created?
    - It brings us back to the Era of no Return when Earth started to lack of resources. Solutions found to slow down its downfall were not effective and, in the lapse of one thousand years, the planet ran to its early destruction. Therefore, someone had to prevent this cycle of disaster from happening prior to when our world reached a point of no return. A gentle soul unscathed by the wanders of a decaying society had to endorse this cruel destiny...
    - Indeed, we had to pick up the pieces from the mess caused by the greed of some, which led civilisations to war for a puddle of fuel or a drop of drinkable water! Styx interrupted her. I must admit you're a quite good judge of character, he said to Alys. By the way, we haven't introduced ourselves yet. My name's Styx, and she is Zoe.
    - Nice to meet you I guess, though you quite put me off by your rudeness.
    - Uh, you seem to be an immature crybaby by your annoying character at first glance...
    - Still at it? What of your so-called maturity if I may argue Styx, you still haven't gone through that awkward teenage phase yourself!
    Followed by Hitori, Faeri and Lancaster, Sylvestre barged in the refectory and shot glance at Styx in disapproval when the four of them sat down at the Council's table:
    - Quit fighting, how old are you?
    - Who's the child, huh? She is the one who must grow up, by all meanings!
    - Blame on you for not bearing your load of responsibility.
    - Why do we even argue over this matter if the will of God must prevail?
    Lancaster munched on a piece of meat with weariness:
    - Again and again, you two will never get along... Anyway let's enjoy these peaceful times before another cycle of war restarts, he added. I'm Lancaster, master of storms; Sylvestre controls nature and Faeri is God's messenger. Lastly, you already know Judge.
    - Nice to meet you all.


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