Michael and Rush gets back to the Demetreus, where Synthia tells them the impossible...
A Demetreus was waiting for us outside the star system. Once we landed in the enormous hangar bay of the time-ship, Synthia jumped us into No Man’s Space. I explained to Rush everything I could about this supernatural void, although I wasn’t an expert on the subject. Basically No Man’s Space represented a separate slice of the Space-time Continuum, where the laws of physics worked differently. This kept No Man’s Space a separate slice from the known reality, and made a perfect hiding spot for us to plan our next move.
Rush was curious about my recruitment plans, but he forgot about it, as we exited the Invisible Judgment, and walked to the hangar bay through the docking ramp. He was fascinated by the interior of the ship; he searched for other vessels with wide eyes, but he couldn’t find anything. He kept looking though, and quickly pointed towards the ceiling.
“Where is the light coming from?” he asked with deep curiosity. There were no lamps aboard the Demetreus, the white light seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
“Transparent metal,” Synthia answered instead of me. The AI popped up in front of Rush, giving him quite a scare. On the record, he didn’t show anything from his sudden shock, in reality, he jumped back two meters within an instant.
“What.... Wait, so you would be Sinti, right?” Rush asked, after he found his inner courage.
“Synthia,” she corrected him.
“I see. Michael never said you would be so... good looking,” he answered, trying to get a hold of the situation. This wasn’t his strong suit though. I thought it would be better, if I talked instead of my fellow agent.
“Synthia is here to brief us about the current situation in the time-line, and also, she is the one who patches us up if we get killed. If I were you, I would want to be in good terms with her.
“You mean, she rebuilds our bodies and uploads our memories personally?” Rush raised his eyebrows.
“I merely order and supervise the reconstruction process,” she said calmly.
“And when do I get my brain-chip? You know, the ones that collect my memories and send it back to you?” he asked, scratching his nape.
“As soon as you embark on your next assignment.”
“Which is getting that other member, right?” Rush towards me.
“We can’t win against Mr. Wrong unless we have a significant advantage,” I nodded.
“Actually, you did just fine,” Synthia added, I could see the appreciation in the smile on her face.
I was quite surprised by that, I thought losing the battle meant more to her than getting a new member to the crew.
Even if he was Nickolas Rush.
“Thanks to your aid, the Coalition won the battle.”
“What?” We asked in unison.
We saw the destruction of Washington D.C. alongside with Imahara’s devastating attack against our defenses. There was no way we won that fight.
“Thanks to you, Earth Command got the intel about the bomb an hour before it exploded. They were hoping for the best, but they prepared for the worst instead. While you were fighting for the Dome, the Coalition cut off 80% of the Defense Grid from the Dome, and connected it to the secondary power systems. When Imahara arrived, Earth was ready for the fight,” she explained, leaving even more questions than she answered.
“I didn’t see anything from the defenses, when we left,” I shook my head in disbelief, although I wanted to believe in what I heard.
“They kept the guns down until every Takedan warship was in range. Imahara was taken by surprise. By the time he could turn the tables, the First Fleet arrived, obliterating almost all of his fleet. Only a dozen Takedan ships survived the battle, the Kegare was among them, although it was badly damaged.”
I couldn’t believe it, we outplayed Imahara. I thought we lost when Mr. Wrong blew up Washington, and yet things turned out differently.
“And what happened after that?” Rush asked with a shocked, but happy expression on his face. “We won the war? Is mankind safe from extinction?”
“The war raged on for another year, but the Coalition was defeated anyway. Thanks to the additional time of extensive combat research, mankind could save a couple dozen individuals from the upcoming onslaught. They passed on the legacy of the human race, which was all they could do, concerning their numbers,” she continued.
I thought it wouldn’t be so easy to win everything. At least we took a step for the right direction. If we did our job right, many more victories would follow, and eventually, we would beat Mr. Wrong, saving humanity from extinction.
“And Mr. Wrong just stepped aside?” I asked after some consideration.
“Actually, he was the one who pushed the tide,” Synthia answered. “Shortly after the battle, the Coalition sent a cruiser to Takeda, filled with nuclear weapons. Its mission was to obliterate the entire planet, crippling the Japanese economy. But the ship “accidentally” jumped into the planet’s sun. According to my calculations, if the cruiser completes his mission, there would be 81.65% chance for a Coalition victory.”
It was clear who stood behind this unfortunate accident. Mr. Wrong made his move, and we had to take ours. There were only one little problem with this plan.
“But that’s genocide,” Rush shook his head.
“A genocide that might just save mankind from extinction,” Synthia said without showing any emotion towards the people who would be slaughtered for the greater good.
“So what? If we do this, we are no better, than the Japanese,” Rush protested.
I could see his point, but I didn’t make my decision yet. From my perspective, this was a decision later on in the story.
“We will discuss after we get the third member of the team.” I interrupted the two. “If we want to stop Mr. Wrong, we will need her for the fight.”
“Her?” Rush cocked an eyebrow.
“We will recruit Sylvana,” I nodded.
“How? I thought you had difficulties with saving her.”
“I can’t reconstruct her, Michael,” Synthia added. “My systems might work with a Deylonian, but a Deylonian-cyborg-human hybrid is beyond my capabilities. We would need plans about her implants and...” she explained this a thousand times to me. She thought I forgot about it, but actually, I had the right answer for her question.
“That’s why we will recruit her, when she was just a Deylonian.”
“Are you crazy?” Rush snapped in disbelief. “She spent her entire life on Deylon, you know, the most dangerous planet in the known galaxy!”
“A DNA sample will be enough. This means I will just have to get close for a single moment,” I told them. I had to admit; I was a bit scared of that place as well, that’s why I chose Argos instead of Deylon a while back. Without Argos, that was my only option.
“Yeah, you get close to her, get the sample, and then you die,” Rush rolled his yes. “Who the hell will get the sample back to the ship?”
“That will be your job. I will have a tracker in me, once I’m dead, you get down with another copy of the Judgement. It will be dangerous, but all you have to do is get to my dead body, and get the sample out of my hand. That would work for you wouldn't it?” I answered, elaborating them in my plans.
“Wouldn’t it be simpler to take another shot with Argos? And what about the prison? If she joins us willingly, nobody would have to reconstruct her. If Synthia studies her implants long enough, we will be able to remake her if she were to die on a mission. Hell, if we do that, we could make an army of her by re-growing her constantly in the reincarnation chambers!” Rush said, I could see his fascination with his idea. He thought he knew everything about these time-jumps, without actually knowing anything about them.
“We can’t do either of that,” Synthia answered, crossing her arms.
“And why is that?” he asked. I could answer instead of the MI, but I always thought Synthia handled these situations better than I did.
“Because the Time Guard would kill us all. After that, they would restore the timeline, undoing everything we accomplished so far,” she explained.
“And who are those guys?” Rush asked with wide eyes.
“The police,” she answered within an instant. “Time-travel is illegal due to its destructive nature. Travelling back and forth in time is above the rational laws of physics, the Universe has no counter-measures against it, which means, you can rewrite the history of the known Universe with a single event. For instance, let’s say you get back to the ancient Egypt to observe the pyramids. A single breath can infect the Egyptian society with a deadly virus which is natural for your immune system. The plague can kill the entire population of Egypt, or even obliterate mankind itself. I don’t need to explain the consequences further, do I?” she asked after the explanation.
“And who does supervise it then, and why?” The question arose from Rush.
“Inhabitants of another, presently dead, universe that collapsed due to extensive changes in time. Sadly our Universe is not a peaceful place either, many races explore time-travel, and when they are about to go extinct, they want to change history, just like our species. The Time Guard shuts them down before they could do anything,” Synthia told him.
“Isn’t that evil?” Rush asked.
“Every species dies out once, nothing can last forever in our world. None of those races save themselves from extinction, they simply halt it, often causing other species to die out sooner because of it. If the Time Guard wouldn’t interfere, our Universe would be in the flux of constant and unexpected changes, and eventually, it would simply collapse, just like a house does in a massive earth quake. One vibration is almost neglectable, but the constant siege of the ripples can and will doom everything in its way.”
“Okay, so I guess they did this to their universe, and now they are controlling us. But then why are we here? How come none of those Guardists came here to stop us?” Rush continued after a brief moment of consideration.
“One time-jump and one change is all we do. This is a Level One event, which is transmitted to the local warden, Unayasu. Unayasu thinks my race shouldn’t have died out, and for some reason, he believes the galaxy would be better off with humanity as well. For this simple reason, he never does anything against us,” she explained.
Unayasu was new to me; she never spoke about him in my presence. Whoever he was, I had a feeling we would run into him one day; although definitely not today.
“And how does that stop us from a return?” Rush asked again.
“If we would go back to Argos around the time of the previous change, the ripples created by the changes would simply add together. That’s two jumps with two changes, which is a Level Two event. That goes to the Warden of the Milky Way, Agasa. As a true man of law, Agasa would murder us, if he gets to know anything about what are we doing.
“And he is against the reconstructed army as well, right?” My fellow agent continued.
“Both of them are. Making a thousand from one person is not a natural way of war, or at least not from their view.”
“Alright... Alright,” Rush nodded, scratching his beard. “I guess we will really have to get back to Deylon. Hopefully Mr. Wrong will sit this one out.”
"He will, or he dies.”
I wasn’t joking about what I said. If Mr. Wrong would follow me here, he would either die by my hand, or the wicked lords of Deylon would do the same to him. Even I couldn’t hope for survival on the most dangerous place in the known galaxy.
I jumped out of hyperspace near the planet covered with the ruins of an ecumenopolis. I have never been to planetwide city before, too bad Deylon's city wasn’t among the functioning ones. The Deylonians nuked themselves centuries ago. The survivors tried to restore the old system, but it resulted in a constant war between the different primitive factions.
And then Takeda found and attacked the planet, uniting the tribes against them. They thought it would be an easy victory, just like the Russians did in Afghanistan 500 years ago. The result was almost identical: Deylon became the land of constant war, forcing the entire population to live in fear.
At this time, Sylvana was still a Deylonian warrior, fighting for the survival of her civilization. Originally, she failed, but with my help, she might just succeed.
The Judgment got under the grey clouds of Deylon. Ruined skyscrapers covered the horizon; green plants grew on their walls, while laser fire erupted from their windows. According to my intel, Sylvana was in one of these buildings, and I quickly found my destination.
Strangely, the target building was the only one where I could see no gunfight at all. The building was shot into two by either a cruiser or a nuke. The upper half collapsed into the broken surface of steel and concrete buildings. The lower half was in better shape, in fact, the highest remaining floor was in excellent condition. The floor was mostly in one piece, the walls crumbled it a bit, but it was all right for me.
I decided to land down there, although I didn’t want to collapse the whole level by getting the ship down there. I descended above the level of the ruined skyscraper, and then I checked the radiation level. It was safe enough, so I took the liberty of jumping out of my ship, straight to the black floor of the building.
I found myself surrounded with cracked walls and deformed steel bolts. Looking around, I quickly recognized a couple of dead bodies lying on the floor. They proved to be Japanese soldiers, at least half a dozen of them. Arrows pierced their black armor. Arrows made of iron. I got my weapon in my hand, looked like Sylvana was close by.
I stepped forward then felt a sudden, short pain in my leg. The arrow had caught me by surprise; I couldn’t imagine how it got through my shield. I had to make a run for it; extreme pain followed every step taken.
I tried to get behind the ruined walls on the floor, and then another arrow was launched at me. It barely missed my other leg. I had no choice but to run further, I managed to get behind cover from the third arrow. It was heading towards my head.
That was close, way too close. I took a deep breath, and then I heard a familiar voice coming from the side.