Thursday, July 23, 2020

Microstory 1414: Playing Into His Hands

When Springfield first arrived on Durus through the portal, they were attacked by a bunch of time monsters. They had no apparent means of protecting themselves against these creatures. Traditional weapons, and other blunt instruments could keep some of them at bay, but most were not conscious entities. They were glitches in time that were only hurting people incidentally. They didn’t have motives or needs, and they could not feel pain. There were eleven defenses against them, though. A handful of women in the town were pregnant at the time of the Deathfall, but not all of them were bearing special children. For the child to come out as a source mage, they had to have been conceived during a three-month window. This meant that only a woman between three and six months pregnant at the time would end up as the mother of a source mage. Their power was evident before they were even born, though. Any time monster that attempted to approach one of these women would be fended off by some otherwise inexplicable invisible force. The townsfolk didn’t understand why this happened, and they did not know at the time why it was that only certain pregnant women were capable of it, but if they were going to survive here, these eleven would be their only hope. Unfortunately, one of the women went off with a new friend, and wasn’t seen again for years, but the rest stayed back, and they were saddled with a massive burden. To protect the town, all residents were forced to consolidate, and confine themselves to a small radius. The ten special mothers-to-be were then placed at strategic locations around this perimeter, and guards were assigned to protect the women themselves. Of course, the mothers’ respective families were part of this guard detail. Should any monster get any bright ideas about instigating another attack, one of the sentries would have to push them away. And this continued to work, even after the children were born, except now the responsibility fell on the shoulders of those children.

Day by day, week by week, month by month, attacks from time monsters began to come less frequently, and with less intensity. They were starting to learn that there was no way they were getting through the Baby Barrier, as it would come to be known. After about a year, they stopped completely, and the town of Springfield enjoyed a peaceful period for months. Well, no one would have called it peaceful—there were plenty of internal conflicts to keep them occupied—but at least the monsters were no longer giving them any trouble. The youngest special baby, besides the one that disappeared, was Aqil Saqqaf, who was born on March 18, 2017. Since there was no longer any immediate threat from the monsters, terrible leader, Smith decided he wanted to throw a little party. They had already begun to test their limits, by opening the perimeter little by little, to see if their enemies were watching them. As Aqil’s first birthday approached, they decided to run one last test. Could the perimeter be left open completely without completely destroying the town? They could have theoretically stayed as they were forever, but no one wanted to live like that. They didn’t just want to survive anymore, but actually live. The party was meant to be for all of the special time babies; not just Aqil, and only their families were invited to join. Those not directly involved were still expected to watch the perimeter, so they would at least have a warning if something went wrong. The people were happy. This was the first time something truly good had happened to them, and the first time they felt they didn’t have to be on edge every waking minute. This was their chance to relax, and really enjoy themselves, like they could always do in the old world. This was all part of Smith’s own selfish strategy, and it wasn’t the only one. Yes, he needed to keep his people happy, but more important than that, he needed to keep the babies and their parents happy. He recognized that these infants would not always be infants. They would one day grow up, and start having the capacity to make their own decisions. This would give them a lot of power, so if he wanted to protect his own interests, he needed to make sure that theirs aligned with his. He wasn’t just letting them have a playdate, and making the town feel happy. He was grooming the children to be on his side. Obviously, this was just the beginning, but he had to start somewhere, and he thought it best to get them early. He could continue to do anything he could to keep himself in their good graces, and his plan probably would have ultimately worked, if he had lasted long enough.

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