Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Microstory 1443: First Gasp

On July 17, 2132, a man was dished a deadly blow on Earth. His name was Keanu ‘Ōpūnui, and he developed his powers in a very similar way that the source mages did. The Springfield Nine, as they were called, were a group of people from Springfield, before it became the one-horse town that it was when the Deathfall occurred the better part of two decades later. Precisely who was part of the Nine, and who was merely associated with them was a little confusing, and everyone you ask will give you a different answer, but either way, most of the people in it were friends. The source mages were given time powers because they were at certain points in the process of prenatal development. The Nine were elementary school children when they received their powers, but both groups got them from the same thing. A pocket dimension that once existed as a bridge between Earth and Durus messed with people’s minds, and their DNA, and was capable of changing both on a fundamental level. This dimension was shattered during the Deathfall, but these twenty people were already permanently affected by it. The source mages ended up living on Durus, but the Springfield Nine stayed on Earth, and often caused problems there. Keanu had what he called time meshing. It was like filter portaling, except that the filter was much finer, so it was better used to alter the temperature of the environment than anything else. He was basically taking the weather from one place in time, and sending it to another, which sometimes balanced out both. Dioxygen could pass through, but transporting water was always a little more difficult for him. Keanu didn’t use his powers for good. He could have kept protesters cool in the summertime, or warmed a homeless camp in the wintertime. Instead, he looked for ways to capitalize on what he could do, and he hurt a lot of people along the way. It wasn’t morally good, but it also wasn’t surprising when one of these people hurt him right back. For trying to kill his daughter, a man named Horace Reaver stabbed Keanu in the chin with a sword. He didn’t die instantly, though. He had one more move.

Since the Springfielders first appeared on Durus, many tried to figure out where the breathable air came from. It wasn’t physically impossible for a rogue planet to maintain an atmospheric shell, but this phenomenon wasn’t particularly easy, and the chances that it would be conducive to human life were negligible. Through seers, philosophers, and other experts, the people finally had their answer. Or rather, they had a pretty good idea when the air first appeared on the surface. They still didn’t know about Keanu, or his power, but they did know that the year 2092 was going to bring trouble. With his last moments falling upon him, Keanu attempted to take his enemies down with him, even though it would also kill some of his friends. He tried sending all of the oxygen in the cave they were in to the vacuum of outer space, where it would be wasted. But since he was so badly hurt, he was incapable of focusing his power. He ended up sending himself to Durus instead. It was a one in a million chance, but then again, so was everything else that had ever happened on the planet. The fact was that if this hadn’t happened to Keanu, no one would have survived long enough on Durus to wonder why not. It was Keanu ‘Ōpūnui who quite literally breathed life into the world, which was great, but it came with a catch. His death sent air from Earth in both directions of time, so that Savitri could use it in 1980, and later Durune had it in 2204, but for thirty seconds in the middle, it didn’t exist at all. Everyone on Durus during that time would be totally without air. Now, some believed that all they would have to do was hold their breath for that amount of time. They knew it would be coming, and most people—even children—had the lung capacity to survive this. Unfortunately, it was a lot more complicated than that. Oxygen wouldn’t simply disappear from the outside, but also inside their bodies. This would cause a lot of health issues. The only solution, in some people’s minds, was to skip over this short moment in time altogether. While families huddled together, preparing for the pain, a certain young woman with time powers saved them all once again, and she never even took credit for it. Sadly, there was nothing she could do about the buildings that were made of concrete and metal. When they returned to the timestream a minute later, the towns of Springfield and Splitsville were utterly destroyed.

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