Three years ago, the doctor looked down solemnly even as he brought us into a room to see the last hope for one of us.
It was a promise to one of the four of us, no matter the outcome of this final series of confrontations, three were assuredly going to die. The technology to reverse the process could only save one of us.
We were given our powers artificially, secretly, when all hope was lost against the Minbar Incursion. Renegades from a galactic community, the Minbar attacked and destroyed worlds rich in genetic material to harvest or transform into their own immortal genome.
Illegal by galactic standards, the galactic community claimed they would get to our case in a decade or two. Not being members of the official Galactic Alliance meant we were a low priority. By the time the Alliance got to us, humans would be harvested completely by the Minbar.
Factions in the Galactic government secretly took pity on us and gave us The Process; it was illegal, dangerous and our only chance for survival. The Alliance factions could not fight our battle but they could even the odds. Using The Process, we would become superhuman. It would allow us to channel our chronal energies into superhuman abilities. We thought we understood what that meant. We didn’t.
We thought we would be willing to pay any price. Then we learned the true price. Candidates were scanned and those who possessed the greatest possibility energy, the greatest potential to humanity, the greatest chance to better the human experience over time, were given The Process. The device stole from humans whose potentials would have altered the existence of man and redirect that chonal energy into a single opportunity of metahuman capability. No human over the age of sixteen could use The Process, and by the time you were eighteen you were dead or soon to be.
Nothing could stop it. Not that it mattered, once the Minbar knew we had The Process, they stepped up their assault, harvesting entire cities, until now.
“Golden, you stop that ship, you stop it no matter what it takes.”
“What about the collateral damage?”
There was a pause. “We are past that. You have to bring it down. Now. There are only fourteen harvesters left on the planet and you four are the only survivors. If we bring them down, maybe the Alliance will see fit to acknowledge us.”
“Doctor, are you still thinking the Alliance is testing us?”
“That is less important than you stopping that ship. Get to work.”
The Process turned me into a machine-like organism. I grew metal plates all across my body. I look like a robot from a bad steampunk anime. I am also every bit as powerful.
Their message ship is sitting over Washington, DC. I can see it from the top of my parabolic arc into the stratosphere. I begin my approach.
“Where are the others?”
“Moloch didn’t make it out of India. His flame powers gave out as he brought down the last three there. He had turned eighteen a few days ago, but insisted on going out on one last run. His harvesters were only fifteen percent full.” That was only four hundred thousand people who died.
When we were assigned, we were psychologically profiled. They determined we were the most likely to be willing to do whatever it took to win the war, no matter what the cost. We thought we would be soldiers.
We weren’t. We were weapons; Ajax, Big Ben, Moloch and Golden, we were the Last Four.
Moloch was the oldest of the Last Four. He was a legend. He was the last of his class and had fought more harvesters and saved more humans than any other. The Minbar ships fought their hardest whenever he appeared, a flaming comet over their ships. He devastated their drones and their pilots learned to fear him. He destroyed everything, he was a vengeful god.
He was loved by Humanity but also feared. Magazines put his face and his exploits on covers but whenever it was mentioned about the loss of life, his handlers were quick to explain, a harvester could hold one million people. Because of his speed and decisive action, no ship, after the Process was developed ever escaped with a cargo of more than 400,000, if it escaped at all. Moloch had destroyed over fifty harvesters in his three year window. More than five million people had been killed, but fifty million saved.
Some called it an immoral calculus. Nothing could justify such a loss of life.
That was before the Galactic Alliance leaked footage of the harvesting process. People were unrolled like fabric, until they were nothing more than a cellular matrix, hundreds of feet wide, where cells and their attendant genetic matter were harvested, sorted by genetic properties and stored. The screams of their victims who were alive and aware, were mercifully brief.
Humanity was galvanized into battle. We armed everyone, man, woman and child and forced the Minbar to come to ground and make us leave our cities. Their technology was superior and though we fought, we just lost the war slower.
Until Ajax was made. Ajax was a super-soldier. He led our forces against the Minbar, no matter where they stood. His powers were superhuman strength, stamina and speed. He could be anywhere on the planet in a hour. He led battle after battle until exhausted, he fought the battle of Shanghai. Three hundred thousand Chinese Regulars fought the greatest collection of the Minbar ever seen in a single place, a regiment of over two hundred aliens.
The Chinese Regulars fought heroically to the last man.
Then Ajax fought and died alone.
After that battle, the Minbar stopped fighting on the ground. The battle of Shanghai cost them 187 lives; more than at any other in the war. For beings who were immortal, this was a loss they could not bear.
It turned the tide. Emboldened, more stepped up for The Process until the Mimbari destroyed the facility. They hunted us down one at a time until only we three were left. Their final push was to send eight harvesters in a mad dash against us, stealing as much genetic matter as possible. It seemed our resistance was being noticed in the galactic community. If we could hold out, the Minbar would be punished economically. In a fit of pique, they told us they would destroy the symbols of our power, demoralizing us, so other scavenger races would pick our world clean.
Not gonna happen.
The last of their harvesters goes down crushing Buckingham Palace. Ben died stopping them.
My exoskeleton is heating up in reentry I am absorbing the energy, making myself go faster, and glow hotter. Ipush my powers to their limit. You see, my power is to absorb energy and control it. Their delivery ship is nothing more than an an antimatter bomb over DC. This was how they kept us docile. They boasted, telling us when and where they would strike. They thought they’d be safe in their mothership high above the Earth, watching the fireworks.
So watch this.
Flattening out my approach arc from orbit, I am headed straight at their bomb above Washington DC. I can sense their mothership overhead, deep in space, light seconds away, its energies are blinding, unlike anything on Earth, except for their weapon. My superheated body is already manipulating the antimatter in their bomb, even at this distance. Will have to time this just right. I have to redirect the energy flow. I can see the neutrino glow of the antimatter engine. It calls to me. It’s not like anything I have ever seen.
It’s beautiful. The ship explodes around me, they think they are going to demoralize us with the destruction of the capital. The antimatter explosion surrounds me, more energy makes me more indestructible, but it won’t last. The curve of invulnerability to energy absorbed is finite and I am reaching my limit. The power courses through me, into my arms as I point toward their starship, sixteen light seconds away… It hurt at first, then the pain is gone. I am converted into antimatter and I direct myself toward their ship at nearly the speed of light. The ultimate expression of my power is to become the energy I absorb.
There is a boom heard for miles in every direction. The White House dome is flattened in the shockwave. The Minbar ship trying to escape with its captives is destroyed in an unholy flare of antimatter energy. The Minbar retreat from Earth. No further incursions take place. The Galactic Alliance disavow any knowledge or information regarding Humanity’s acquisition of The Process.
My explosion lights the sky for days.
Golden © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved