Saturday, December 3, 2016

Clean Sweep: Absolute Power (Part IV)

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story.

There are certain objects in the the world of time manipulators that possess temporal powers of their own. A handful of these are natural, but most were created by someone whose temporal power allowed them to do so. A few of them are a combination of the two. For instance, time mirrors are composed of glass sourced from the sands of Atlantis, forged by the fires of Mount Wingen. Extraction mirrors, of which there is actually only one, can be created using sand from Uluru, and fire from Baba Gurgur. Immortality, meanwhile, can be found in the proper mixing of a number of different water sources all over the world.
Temporal objects are used by choosing ones and other time travelers in order to accomplish some task, often one that enhances their natural powers. Baudin carries a bone stake that can warp time around it while constructing complex architectural structures. The Navigator is actually just a regular human who found the Compass of Disturbance, and travels time and space using temporal rifts.  The Warrior too was born human, but uses the Sword of Assimilation to steal other people’s power. The Artist has a number of tools, each with multiple functions, that he uses to create people capable of temporal manipulation. And it was his objects that allowed Zeferino Preston to survive his apparent death. He had cut the neck of The Mass using the Sword of Assimilation just before the Artist tried to kill him with his special gouge. This confluence of events forced Zeferino’s mind into the body of the Mass, making him one of the most powerful forces in the universe.
Zeferino now possessed a plethora of temporal powers that he did not before. He could jump back and forth through time at will, create temporal bubbles capable of speeding up or slowing time in a localized area, witness events from an observation dimension, and many more. Unfortunately for him, the Mass came with one flaw. The Artist had written a sort of code that prevented his newest creation from lasting more than a few seconds at any one point in time and space. Though he never got a chance to implement this before it was accidentally given to chooser Aquila Bellamy, he had already provided it with a certain level of time sensitivity. While in the body of the Mass, Zeferino could go to any time and any place he wanted, but he would not be able to stay there very long. The code, as it were, was fickle, and did not always give him the same amount of time with each jump, but it always took him away eventually, and he was never able to return. He could never correct a mistake, or help a past version of himself.
His limitations, despite his enormous power, frustrated him greatly. He could do a great deal of things, but he was not perfect, and was notably vulnerable to the desires and decisions of the choosing ones and the powers that be. He spent a lot of time as The Cleaner, using his original power of course correcting the timeline to keep everyone in check, but they would always be able to undo his work, and he would never be able to try again. The best he could do was send his consciousness back in time a few minutes at most, but this was not usually all that helpful.
At some point in his new life, his anger over his feelings of helplessness overcame his contentment with what power he did wield. He transformed into something different; something new. He even changed his name. He became The Cleanser. He decided to make it his mission to destroy every single person capable of manipulating time in any way, shape, or form. His first victim was a salmon criminal known as Horace Reaver, for he knew that no one would miss him. Reaver was being kept in a special glass prison cube, by the order of the powers that be. He was being guarded by a contingency of men who had become intertwined with him and his temporal shenanigans. So first, Zeferino banished them from the scene so that he could have a conversation with his primary target in peace. He would then apport them back, and kill them all at once.
Reaver, shocked by the guards’ unexplained disappearance, called out, “hello?”
Zeferino sighed, “yes, hello. I am here.”
“Could I ask you for your name?” Reaver replied, with honest congeniality.
“I was intending on keeping you in the dark,” Zeferino replied. In fact, in an alternate version of this conversation, I think that I did. But I’ve decided that I’d like to set the record straight on a few things. First of all, the choosing ones, and the powers that be, are not the same thing. They are two completely different sets of people, with different motivations, different power, and different weakness.”
“Okay...”
“Which means that, two; your daughter is a choosing one, and cannot be a power that be, which means that she has no conflict of interest. There is no family conflict of interest. She could have sent you back in time to fix your mistakes if she wanted, but she chose not to. She might have avoided it out of fear of natural consequences, but she’s pretty powerful, I doubt those affect her all that much.”
“What?”
“I can see you’re confused. That’s okay, I didn’t expect much from you. I just want you to know that I’m planning on killing every single person in the universe with any sort of ability to manipulate time. I don’t care whether we’re talking about someone as insignificant as a guy who can see the future, or as powerful as your daughter. They’re goin’ down, and I’m not doing it because time travel is wrong. I’m doing it to consolidate my power. When all time travelers are dead, then what are you left with? Me. I’ll still be here, and I will shape the timeline to my choosing, and I won’t have any weaknesses, and no one will be able to stop me.”
Reaver took in a deep breath, and Zeferino couldn’t tell whether he ever let it out. “Fine with me, I don’t know why you’re telling me this. I’m in prison, I don’t care.”
“After I kill you, I’m probably gonna kill Mateo Matic.”
Reaver laughed. “You can try. He won’t go down easy, though.”
“It doesn’t have to be easy. It can also be fun.”
“Well, good luck with thaaaat,” he said sarcastically.
“At some point, I’ll have to kill Meliora too.”
“I know, and I’m fine.”
“You’re fine with me killing your daughter?”
“No. Mateo is a survivor, but you might be able to best him. Melly, on the other hand, is a whole different story. I’m completely confident that you would never be able to kill her. You should get rid of Mateo first, because he will likely show you he’s more resourceful than you think, and it’ll warm you up to everyone else. But you should go after Melly last, because the only way you survive is if she has no hope.”
“I appreciate the advice.”
“Like I said, I don’t think it’ll matter anyway, though.”
“Well, we’ll see. I mean, you won’t, because you’re done now. But I’ll see.”
“Right, of course.”
Bored with the conversation, and true to his word, Zeferino brought all the guards back, but now inside of the cube, so that they could all die from the explosion.
Killing Horace Reaver was not nearly as satisfying as Zeferino thought it would be. He also felt bad about killing the guards along with him, because they were innocent, and were incapable of manipulating time on their own. He chose to very not take Reaver’s advice to begin his mission by killing Mateo. He went after a few smaller game first, but they proved to be more difficult than he imagined. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as simple as he figured. Click here for the next installment...

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