Saturday, February 3, 2018

Void: Star-Crossed (Part V)

One of the conditions of letting the people of Durus vote in a new administration to replace the provisional government was that anyone serving in the provisional government would be allowed to run. Prosivor Drumpf was the only one exempt from this requirement, since he made all his cronies look bad when his hatespeech was broadcast live on LoaTV. A not insignificant number of people from the provisional government were either reëlected to their original positions, or to new ones, even those who really shouldn’t be there. Yet, the people have spoken, so Saga et al. would have to accept it, and move on.
One of Andromeda’s conditions was that she be allowed to step down from her leadership role as well. She enjoyed using her time power to build up the city, but she didn’t want people looking to her for answers. She just wanted to live her life for herself, and now, with Saga. The two of them had grown incredibly close over the course of the last year. Since their first, they had gone on dozens of other dates, and had even technically moved in together. Five Earthan months ago, it was becoming clear that not everyone in the original two cities were interested in staying. They wanted to spread out across the planet, like their ancestors had with their little towns. And so Andromeda built a mobile home. Since there were no city streets on Durus to worry about, she was free to make it as wide as she wanted, which meant there was enough room for the two of them, plus Loa, and her girlfriend, Hokusai. Loa was using her time power to stream their construction efforts in a sort of documentary designed to showcase all the good Andromeda was doing. It was Hokusai’s job to keep their home in operation. They probably had the most luxurious and technologically advanced home in the world; one that was capable to piloting itself to other settlements, where Andromeda would start laying the foundations for neighborhood isolates.
The most recent of these isolates was a neighborhood that called itself Dawidux. When the Earthans came in the Deathspring, they banded together and protested against giving refugee aid. As time went on, and the “Earthan problem” persisted, they gradually transitioned their goals to that of ethnic cleansing. They started covering themselves with hoods, and lynching Earthans that had strayed too far from the herd, reminiscent of a darker time in Earth’s own history. Scholars today believe they, in fact, got all their ideas from the Nazi and white nationalism movements, which was ultimately ironic, because if any Nazis or white supremacists were on Durus, they would be treated just as poorly as any other Earthan. Provisor Drumpf was rumored to be a powerful leader in the Dawiduxian movement, and though a direct connection was never proven, he was quite clear in his sympathy for them, as were other members of government, some of whom remain in power.
Though, of course, Andromeda was adamantly opposed to Dawiduxian principles, she had no choice but to build their neighborhood for them. She promised to do what she could to help restore the world to its former glory, and even improve upon it. The fact that she was in support of Earthans, and lived with two of them, appeared to be completely lost on the Dawiduxians. The hate-mongers needed something from someone they hated, and so they were going to carefully look away and pretend they didn’t notice, only expressing their outrage once Andromeda was done helping them. That day was today. Saga and Andromeda were presently walking on the edge of the neighborhood on a final inspection, to see if anything needed to be fixed, or added. Things started not feeling quite right, and they realized the residents were comfortable enough with their neighborhood to make their move.
“There’s a fire!” Saga called out, seeing the red and orange blaze in the distance.”
“That’s where we parked our home!” Andromeda cried.
“Hokuloa!” Saga screamed, referring to Hokusai and Loa’s shipper name.
They started running, but a horde of Dawiduxians deliberately stepped into their way.
“Please!” Andromeda begged. “There are people in there!”
“That’s the point,” one of them said luridly.
“You would murder two innocent people? We’ve already given you what you want! You asked for a neighborhood of your own, and you’ve got it.”
“That does not absolve you of your sins. You have conspired with the Earthans, and you will be punished for it.”
“What exactly is your problem with us?” Saga questioned.
Saga stepped back, in sync with the leader, as he stepped forward. “This is our world, and you have invaded it.”
“We didn’t ask to come here.”
“No, you didn’t,” he said, “but Earth asked you to leave.”
“What are you talking about?”
He smiled and shook his head, like a Christian wondering why a Muslim hasn’t figured out that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. “We have mage remnants on our side.”
They said nothing.
“What, you thought it was just you? Lots of remnants are part of our cause. They can see things others can’t, and they have told us that Earth sent us the worst of their worst.”
“Again. What the hell are you talking about?”
He looked to the air above his head for the right words. “You’re like lice. On a dog.”
“Do you even know what a dog is?” Saga asked bitingly.
He ignored her. “You’re actually the bad lice. All the other lice are just trying to live their lives in the dog’s feathers, but the bad lice keep raping them, so the dog’s owner uses a special machine to suck all the bad lice away. Durus was that machine, and it brought you all here so Earth wouldn’t have to deal with you anymore. But we don’t want you either.”
Saga just stared at them. “I don’t..even to respond to that. There was so much wrong with what you said, I—I just..can’t even. How do you argue against something so absurd when your opponent is too dumb to know that dogs don’t even have feathers!”
“Whatever, you know what I mean.”
“There’s no such thing as good lice.”
“So what?”
“We aren’t rapists, and you have zero evidence that we are. You’ve just..been told this? And you accept it?”
The Dawiduxian scoffed. “We don’t have to listen to your lies. We were perfectly happy with building a wall separating our cities, but now you’ve infected people’s minds, and our only option now is to just rid of you altogether.”
“What does that mean?”
He spoke above their heads, “you have them?”
Saga and Andromeda turned around to see Hokusai and Loa being dragged towards them. They tried to run to them, but were held back.
“Yes, they’re alive,” the leader said, like he had done them a favor. “And one of them will remain that way, as long as she does what she’s told.”
“What are you telling?” Andromeda asked.
He nodded to two of his goons. One of them handed Andromeda a knife, while the other handed one to Loa. “You have been found guilty of literally sleeping with the enemy. You have two choices. You can either die in each other’s arms, or you can excise the demons from your souls, and join us.”
Saga knew neither Andromeda, nor Loa, would do such a thing. Had they not been respectively in love, they still wouldn’t kill guiltless and harmless people. That just wasn’t in their nature. This was a waste of everybody’s time. Perhaps the Dawiduxians knew it wouldn’t work, and were just screwing with them. Or maybe they were really delusional enough to think they were on the right side of history, and were confident everyone else would eventually see the light.
“Andromeda, maybe you could build a nice little cage for these people?”
The leader laughed. “You could try.” He nodded to an old woman at his side. “She’s a power dampener, though, so the most you’ll get is a psychic nosebleed.”
“He’s right,” Andromeda said quietly to Saga. “I’ve been trying this whole time.”
“You have sixty seconds to choose,” the leader said. With another nod, he ordered several of his people to lift their bows and arrows. One of the arrows slipped away, though, and flew right into Hokusai’s chest.
“Hokusai!” Loa screamed.
The one who had shot her was really just a kid, who was mortified by what he had done. It was clearly an accident.
“Andy! Be ready!” Saga yelled. She took the knife out of her hand, and used a skill she had learned on Tribulation Island to throw it into the power dampener’s neck.
The dampener didn’t have to die to lose control of her power, giving Andromeda the edge she needed. In anger, adrenaline coursing through her veins, she pulled a platform of stone out of the ground, and shot them up into the air. The four of them managed to stay on, but so did several Dawiduxians. In her own anger, Loa started fighting them alongside Saga, until they had thrown them all off the precipice. By the time Andromeda had calmed down, the tower was hundreds of meters in the air, and leaning to one side. She had built parapets to hold onto, so they wouldn’t slip off themselves, but the tower was not going to last much longer. They could already feel it threaten to tip over completely.
Some other version of Saga appeared from a hatchway in the floor. “Come on!” she called out to them. Andromeda and Loa carried Hokusai through the hatchway, while Saga took up the rear. Just as she was climbing through, the tower was starting its race back to the ground. When they exited at the bottom of the tower, though, it was still standing. The other Saga had magically transported them a few moments into the past. A Dawiduxian that Loa had pushed off the edge landed on the ground next to them, so they ran away from the new building, looking for safety. They then closed their timeloop as they watched the tower topple over, and destroy the majority of the neighborhood that Andromeda had just constructed.
“Thank you,” Saga said to herself.
“I need to get her out of here,” Future!Saga explained, indicating Hokusai, who was still alive, but barely.
“Where will you take her?” Loa asked.
“There’s gotta be a door in that town that’s still standing,” Future!Saga answered. “I have to take her back to the future.”
Loa didn’t like hearing this, especially since she didn’t know how far into the future this would be, but she knew she couldn’t question the decision. “Let’s go.”
While Future!Saga ran up to find the safest route to the closest stable door, the other three able-bodied women began transporting Hokusai using a three-person arm-stretcher carry. They made it to the door, and let Future!Saga take her through alone.
Present!Saga should have been more careful, but she did accidentally see Serif waiting for them on the other side of the portal. That was a good sign. “What do we do now?” she asked. “We’re scheduled to start building New Springfield a few miles from Watershed. With transportation burned down, though, we’re gonna be late.”
Andromeda surveyed the rubble that was once a budding town, bitter look on her face. She took in, and released, a deep breath. “I quit.”

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