The Dark Empire, Page 219-227 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 219-227
“I’m bored,” said Marae.
Robert looked up from the sandcastle. “Wait an hour, something will happen.”
Bobby poured some water from a bucket into his moat. “Yeah, seriously. All of this has been too much, I’m done.”
Robert glanced at Bobby. “Are you okay? You haven’t said it for at least a half-hour.”
“And I was kidnapped,” added Bobby.
Robert and Marae both laughed. “There it is.”
“Well it’s true,” said Bobby.
A corner of Robert’s castle collapsed. He scowled at the offending tower and flicked at it with a finger. “At least you have an excuse, we stupidly followed the Ravens of our own free will.”
“Maybe we should just leave this Crystal Bubble, we know how,” said Bobby.
Marae got up from the hammock. “I tried, there’s a lock on this world. You can’t leave.”
Robert feigned a hurt expression. “I didn’t know you tried. Were you going to leave without me?”
“I was having a bad night,” replied Marae.
Robert stood and stretched. “I don’t blame you, this whole thing is a mess. We’re just doing all the dirty work the Ravens don’t want to do. They’ve forgotten all about…” Robert cut his sentence off and pointed at the sky. “…umm guys, look.”
Twelve flaming objects were descending though the upper atmosphere, still small, but trailing a tail of flames behind them. The objects were still high enough that their trajectory and possible landing point couldn’t be guessed yet.
“Those are spaceships re-entering the atmosphere,” said Bobby. “I used to watch outside the spaceport all the time.”
“But how?” said Marae. “That’s not really outer space up there, they would have been outside the Crystal Bubble.”
“Maybe they opened portals and entered from up there,” said Robert.
“Or someone has ships outside the Crystal Universe,” said Marae.
“Maybe they’re meteors,” offered Bobby. “Or maybe someone threw rocks at a Crystal Bubble?”
The objects grew larger, then an explosion arrived with a crack like thunder. Robert reacted immediately and flicked his wrist and shouted: “Return!” His Moon spear appeared in his hand. “Get around me, the shock wave will hit next.”
Bobby and Marae crowded around and Robert caused the Moon Spear to form a protective barrier around the three of them, and just in time. The shock wave from the twelve flaming objects hitting the atmosphere arrived with such force the palm trees bent and several broke in half and crashed to the ground.
“I think those things are coming right at us,” said Marae.
“I’ll keep the Moon Shield up just to be safe,” said Robert.
Marae looked at Robert, worry etched on his face. “The Crystal Palace goes underground a long way, it’s anchored and will be safe, but we’re just inside a bubble, we’ll be blown out to sea by a tsunami when those land.”
“I can anchor us,” shouted Robert. The roar of the descending objects was getting loud now. There was little doubt the objects were going to land nearby, if not directly on top of them. Robert lifted the Moon Spear and drove the butt of the handle into the ground. A shaft of moonlight drove downward, illuminating the ground around them in a pale glow. The moonlight drove deep into the island and then even further until it reached bedrock. Deep in the bedrock four shafts of light spread out, much as an anchor dug into the bottom of the sea did to hold a ship in place. “Okay, we’re anchored.”
Bobby shielded his eyes and looked up. “They are spaceships, but don’t most spaceships slow down to land?”
Robert shook his head. “Not if they’re attacking, they’ll come in as fast as they can to keep defenders from getting too organized.”
“I think we need to make a decision,” said Marae. “The Ravens got themselves into another mess and I’m tired of it. Are we going to help?”
“I’m not,” said Bobby. “They treat us like dirt and it isn’t going to stop.”
“I agree with Bobby,” said Marae. “They never include us in any decisions and only call us when there’s work to do.”
Robert pressed his lips together in a frown. “It goes against everything I believe in as a Hawk to flee a fight, but I agree. They’ve abandoned the mission long ago and are only working towards their own goals now. I’ll not help them again, these Ravens are poor allies and worse friends.”
“Guys, hold on, those ships are about to hit,” shouted Bobby.
The boys knelt at the base of the Moon Spear as the ships impacted the beach with enough force to send the ground rolling in every direction. Robert turned his head in time to see a wave of dirt crash over the protective barrier, but inside the barrier he felt nothing. The Moon Spear was a weapon made during a time when the Creators had warried against each other with weapons powerful enough to destroy whole solar systems in a blink of the eye.
The dirt slid off the barrier and Marae breathed out. “Holy Sun God, how can ships survive an impact like that?”
“Darai ships can do that, we’ve just never seen it done,” said Robert.
“What the heck?” said Bobby. “Are those dragons?”
The boys watched the occupants pouring out of the ship, and they were dragons, big silver dragons running down ramps from the ships.
“What have the Ravens done now?” said Marae.
“I am so sick and tired of Ravens,” said Bobby. “Is there anyone in the entire Land of the Ancestors they haven’t started a war with?”
The army of dragons ran at the Crystal Palace and took up positions facing the north wall. The dragons raised their weapons and fired. Robert shook his head in disbelief, the dragons actually had laser rifles. The entire side of the Crystal Palace exploded inward, and leaving behind a gaping hole of broken and jagged crystal. Laser and gunfire fire shot out from inside the Crystal Palace. The dragons returned fire and the sand between the dragons and the Crystal Palace melted into a sheen of melted glass.
A squad of the dragons saw the boys inside the Moon Shield and turned their weapons on them and fired. The boys shielded their eyes as the sand around the Moon Shield melted to glass, and then to molten lava. Robert felt the Moon Spear’s energy draining away and pulled the anchor up to reinforce the shield. The shield flared bright red from the assault, but held.
And then as quickly as the battle had started, it ended. The boys looked out at where the dragons had been, but they were gone. The sand was back as it had been, the trees were again standing as if nothing had happened, and the Crystal Palace was again whole. It had been a raging battle one moment, and then it was as if the dragons hadn’t been here.
“What the heck…did that just happen?” asked Bobby.
“It happened, we all saw it,” said Robert. “The Ravens really stepped into this time.”
“Leave the Moon Shield up,” said Marae. “I…have a feeling.”
A loud crack of an explosion sounded and the boys looked up. The twelve ships were again descending through the atmosphere. The shockwave hit, the ships landed, the dragons attacked the Crystal Palace, and the squad of dragons fired at them, and then they were gone again and everything was normal.
“What in the blazes have the Ravens done?” asked Robert.
“This is it for me, I swear if we get out of this alive I’m going to find a way to get away from the Ravens,” said Bobby.
Robert nodded and looked up. The twelve ships were descending again. “I’m with you, if we survive this we take one of those boats in the hanger bay and leave for the mainland. I don’t want to see a Raven ever again.”
The dragon ships landed, the attack took place again just as it had the first two times, then the dragons disappeared and everything was as it was. The boys looked up and saw the ships coming again. They watched and waited, but the ships didn’t land.
“I don’t think they’re moving,” said Marae. “Look at the trees, they’re not moving in the breeze.”
“Yeah, look at the waves,” added Bobby. “They aren’t moving either.”
Something caught Robert’s eye. “What’s that?”
“It’s a portal, but not like the Jon Black’s portals, there’s no door, it’s like someone ripped a hole in time and space,” said Bobby, then turned away and threw up.
Robert had to turn away also, the portal was making him sick also.
Marae didn’t turn away. “I think I remember that place. I think it’s the edge of the universe where time and space doesn’t exist.”
“Isn’t it making you sick to look at it?” asked Robert, spitting the bile from his mouth.
“A little, but I used to be an Elemental, maybe that’s why I can look at it,” said Marae.
The shadow of a figure appeared in the portal and stepped out into the tropical light of the island.
“Oh, now it makes sense,” said Marae.
“Who is it, I can’t look without seeing inside the portal?”
The figure walked around to the other side of the Moon shield and waved. “Hi guys,” said Zil.
Robert frowned and several pieces of the puzzle fell into place. “You were supposed to be back days ago from the Mathor world. What’s going on?”
Zil shrugged. “Nothing much. We crash landed on an alien planet, Lord Rotathian adopted two baby Shield Dragons that live in his armor, Governor Santi got kidnapped by a Seed Dragon and became the Sheriff of Nottingham, Jasai got real dragon wings and fought the Sky Dragons and then saved some baby dragons from the Fire Dragons, and King Madious became a Water Dragon. Oh, and the Mathors declared war on the dragons, so the dragons attacked the Crystal Palace.”
Robert blinked twice. “Oh, well of course that’s what happened, it makes perfect sense now.”
“We are leaving here as soon as possible,” muttered Bobby.
A man stepped out of the portal and walked over to stand next to Zil.
“And you are…father time?” asked Robert.
The man ran his fingers across the Moon Shield. “In fact, I am,” replied the man.
“Of course, and I’m a cookie elf,” said Robert.
The man’s eyes settled on the Moon Spear. “That Moon Spear was made by the Creators, but has Destroyer technology, now I see why the reset wasn’t working. You three have created your own time paradox within that bubble and created infinite time-line possibilities making it impossible to reset the day. Would you be so kind as to lower your shield?”
Robert shook his head. “No, that’s not happening. We’re done with talking tigers, wolves, time traveling lizards, flying spaceship trains, snowballs with planets inside them, and everything else. We’ll just sit here until you’re gone, then we’re going to take one of the boats and leave.”
The man smiled. “If you speak to me in that impertinent tone one more time, I will crack this shield open and throw you into that portal.”
“Nope, don’t think you can or you would have already,” said Robert.
The man stared into Robert’s eyes. Robert felt the first touch of the man’s mind against his; the man was too strong to resist. Bobby and Marae felt what was happening and added their minds to Robert, but the man was still too strong and brushed Bobby and Marae aside. Robert panicked and opened his mind to the Darai River of Consciousness and screamed for help. Every Hawk, Raven, Brand, Sparrow, Struthian, Falcon, and a few hundred other Darai races stopped what they were doing and faced the direction of the screaming boy. Billions of Darai minds from all across the Corax Galaxy joined their minds together and shoved back at the man assaulting a Darai boy.
The man threw up his defenses and staggered back as the assault followed him out of Robert’s mind. He called for the Time Walkers and they added their minds, but it still wasn’t enough. The Darai continued to push back until the man broke off his attack. The push-back of billions of Darai already at the technological level of the Creators during the beginning of the Fourth Aiden Dynasty was too powerful, he would have to consider adding the Darai to the non-interference treaty. The man shifted time back two minutes to before he had attempted the invasion of Robert’s mind.
“Nope, don’t think you can or you would have already,” said Robert, unaware he was repeating the moment that he had already lived once.
Zil laid his tail on the man’s arm. Robert knew from Jasai that Zil was speaking to the man in the Mather’s native silent language of exchanging protein strings. Zil and the man spoke for several minutes before Zil removed his tail. The man walked back to the portal without a word and disappeared into that nauseating void of creation.
Zil faced Robert. “Father says I have one day to fix your time-line the Jon Black’s broke, but you have to promise to leave the Crystal Universe and never return.”
“Gladly,” agreed Robert. “But I thought we would have ten years before…you know…either me or Bobby has to die, but I guess it’s better to just get it over with.”
“Yeah, me too I guess, I’m ready to just get it over with,” said Bobby. “So, which of us has to die?”
Zil shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Robert gave a little shake of his head and was pretty sure Zil was lying. “How can you not know, isn’t time travel what you do?”
Zil tapped on the Moon Shield. “It doesn’t work like that, too many variables?”
Robert narrowed his eyes and turned off the protective shield. “I think you do know.”
Zil shook his head. “I don’t know, that’s why the Jon Blacks are so bad at Time Walking, they don’t understand that there is only one time-line, not alternate time-lines, or broken time-lines, or multiple dimensional time-lines; there is just one single time-line in a continuous event that can’t be interfered with.”
“That’s not true, you kept resetting time for those ships that were attacking.”
“Time Walkers only take everyone involved in the event back to an earlier point of the event. We don’t make someone decide to pull the trigger and shoot at the Crystal Palace, but there is a chance that a random variable that doesn’t belong could alter the outcome, and that’s what we fix.”
Bobby scratched his head. “Umm…that’s interfering.”
“No, in this event the fourth dragon from the left would have fired at Raen, injuring him. Moeth would have flown into a rage, ordered the Titans to attack, then fired from Raen’s side where she had run to protect him, and injured their Commander. Then the sixth dragon from the right would have stopped firing to rescue their Commander. That would have made the dragons change their direction of fire to cover the sixth dragon pulling the Commander to safety and the ships that would have arrived four minutes later would have provided enough support to keep these dragons from taking the Crystal Palace. But instead, you were here, and you weren’t supposed to be because a Jon Black interfered with the natural death of Bobby eleven years ago. If you weren’t here, the attacking dragons would have been quickly defeated and events would have proceeded as they were intended.”
“Uh, that doesn’t make sense, how did we change anything? We were just standing here,” argued Bobby.
“The squad of dragons that turned to shoot at you caused the Dragon Commander to shift the line to compensate for the dragons now shooting at you, and moved him out of the line of fire from Moeth’s Needle gun, and thus the dragons captured the Crystal Palace and defeated the dragons coming to help.”
Robert flicked his wrist and the Moon spear went to where ever it went when he wasn’t using it. “This makes my head hurt. How do you even know all this?”
Zil shrugged. Robert noticed Zil was fond of shrugging. “This is the seven-hundredth and fourteenth time we’ve reset this day. We’ve followed every bullet fired, every turn of a head that changed an incident, and every action and reaction, down to even the smallest detail to the very end, even past this incident.”
“Okay, I’ll bite, what is the end?”
Zil sat down on the ground and folded his legs across each other. “One of the attacking dragons stupidly fired a laser at Sern and Saeber whom had retreated to defend the hydrogen reactor. The laser hit the reactor and caused a chain reaction that destroyed the Crystal Palace and the Crystal Generator, thus causing the Crystal Universe to collapse and kill trillions of people. We traced the last cause and effect incident to you three standing here.”
Robert stared at Zil for a moment before asking the next question. “Zil, how old are you?”
“I’m a little over six thousand years old, but I have no memory of that life. My father says I made a mistake and became part of an event instead of an observer, so I decided that I had to be reset back to my birth to complete the correction of the event. I’m now fourteen years old, physically and mentally, the same as Jasai.”
Bobby picked up his pack. “We should be going.”
“We’re waiting, there are two other people that have to go with us.”
“Who?” asked Bobby.
Zil jumped up. “Ah, there he is.” Zil waved his hand in the air and an Apeirogon archway appeared. The boys’ mouth’s dropped open and they glared at Zil.
“You’ve been able to open an Apeirogon door the whole time?” shouted Bobby.
Zil didn’t look at or respond to Bobby, but instead kept his gaze on the doorway. Jon Black the Gunslinger walked casually through the door, stopped, and glanced around with a confused expression. His eyes fell on Zil and his fingers twitched at the hilt of his revolver as he let out a sigh.
“I see, the Time Walkers are involved in Mace’s mess now,” said Jon Black. “Is this to be a reset event?”
Zil shrugged and raised his tail level to his waist while the hard spiked tip quivered slightly. Robert knew this meant Zil was prepared to attack, or defend as the need might arise.
“You can lower your tail, Time Walker,” continued the Gunslinger. “I’m not fixing to start a war. “Robert, come on over here.”
Robert cautiously went to the Gunslinger and tipped his head to the side questioningly. Gunslinger Black slowly unbuckled his gun belt with the two revolvers hanging from it and handed it to Robert.
“You’ll have to wrap it around your waist twice…maybe three times,” said Black. “I’ll be wanting those back when we’re done with this business.”
Robert took the belt and looked at it. “Umm…I might not be the one that lives,” said Robert.
The Gunslinger’s eyes flicked down to Robert; the Gunslinger was the biggest man Robert had ever seen.
“If that’s the case, they’ll serve you well on your journey to the next life and I’ll find myself a new set. In the meantime, your Time Walker friend will breathe easier if I’m not the one wearing them. We good now, Time Walker?” asked Black.
“We need one more person,” said Zil waving his hand. Another Apeirogon arch appeared, and through it came Mace Black. Mace had the same confused expression the Gunslinger had when coming through the arch and not ending up where he thought he was going. Mace saw Zil and his eyes widened, then turned and tried to run back through the archway. Zil was too fast and the archway disappeared before Mace could flee.
“Calm down, boy,” said Black.
Mace hurried over to the Gunslingers side. “Marcus, what’s going on?”
“Have you ever met a Time Walker?” asked Black.
“No, Sir, but I know what they are,” said Mace. “Is he going to throw us in the void?”
“You’re about to experience your first Time Walker reset event, just stay close to me,” said Black.
Zil nodded. “Okay, now we can go.”
Robert was just finishing putting the gun belt on, he ended up having to wrap it four times around his waist. “Where?”
And then something almost as bad as looking into the portal of creation happened. The entire world slipped sideways and the planet slid out from under him. He was standing in space while thousands of worlds raced past him in a nauseating blur.