Posted by: lordkyler | April 16, 2015

Frames of Reference – Short Story Week

“Enough games. Why don’t you tell us who – or what –  you really are?”

“I’m afraid I am the most selfish being in the universe.”

•••

The midnight sun cast a harsh glare on the endless white plains, nearly blinding him. An insidious wind tossed fingers of snow into the air like streams of diamond dust. He was chilled to the bone, but he could not stop, could not rest. He was so close.

Behind him, barely audible above the whispering wind, the staccato thump of helicopters came nearer.

•••

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Ah, meaning. The eternal quest of sentient life. An amusing thought, now.”

•••

His energy levels were high. That was good. These humans of earth were more advanced than most races he had encountered. Their technology was certainly less sophisticated than his own, but dangerous nonetheless. It would be a good fight.

•••

“I once thought I understood everything I needed to know. I had a good life, not unlike your own. A bond-group, a life’s work, joy and sorrow. That was before Oblivion arrived.”

•••

There were planes as well, fat-bellied carriers no doubt loaded with troops and artillery. At first there had just been a few, but now the horizon was thick with approaching aircraft. They were quicker than he had expected. But, after all, their world was at stake.

•••

“You cannot imagine the power, the size, the presence of Oblivion. It was God. It was all gods, it was the end. It was everything. And we, we were nothing. Less than nothing.”

•••

Thunderous jets roared past, rupturing the air with their passage. They passed by once, confirming their target, and then circled back around. There were no warning shots. They opened fire immediately.

•••

“It ate planets. Whole. Tore them apart and turned them inside out. Fed off the energy, the raw materials. I watched it happen to our beautiful sister planet. Then it came for us.”

•••

He dodged hard to the left, barely avoiding the machine gun fire that ripped across the ground in streaks. Missiles were close behind, but those were easier to see and anticipate. Chemicals rushed into his bloodstream, the heat and clarity of battle. Pure power. He rolled and leapt into the air, using the concussive force of the missiles to accelerate his jump. He headed straight for the low-flying jets.

•••

“We found out too late that it could think, that it could communicate, just as I speak to you now. But even after we spoke with it, we did not believe until it was too late.”

•••

A beam of energy unfurled from his fingertips and caught the lead jet by the nose. With effort, he twisted and pulled, yanking the jet to one side, directly into the other plane. They both exploded violently, leaving little but charred bits of metal. He landed safely in the snow and kept running. He was close.

•••

“Perspective is a strange thing. For instance, you have put me in a cage. And yet, if I wish, I can imagine that it is the rest of the world that is in a cage, and only I am free.”

“That’s ridiculous. You’re the one in the cage. You can’t leave.”

“Can’t I?”

•••

His scanners flashed rapidly, nearly overwhelmed by the mass of information. Soldiers descended from the skies in droves, some on lines, others by parachute. Helicopters with mounted guns took up the flanks. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

•••

“In any case, this Oblivion, this God, does not think as we do. It has the same sort of thoughts, perhaps, but it does not use them like we would. The priorities are different. The perspective is different. It has strange rules, strange ways. That is the only reason I am still here.”

•••

There was no sound, now, no cold. Only motion, only sight. His personal shield twitched about his person hyperactively, trying to stop the storm of bullets. He had both of his proton swords out, disintegrating men with every swing, but there were so many. It was like fighting the tide. They were practically suicidal in their attempts to stop him. It had been a long time since he had been so challenged.

•••

“Enough philosophical crap. What are you saying?”

“I am here as a herald, as a forerunner. I am here to prepare your world for Oblivion.”

•••

He stepped off a solider’s head and launched himself in the air, snagging the landing gear of a passing chopper. His Lash quickly eliminated the personnel onboard, and he climbed into the cockpit. He had never flown one of these craft, but the basics were the same. He broke off from the battle and followed the navigation system to true north. He didn’t have much time left.

•••

“And what exactly does that entail?”

“As I have said, Oblivion does not think as we do. It has some very specific requirements. In exchange for my help in bringing about these conditions, Oblivion has agreed to spare my world. Thus my selfishness. I apologize.”

•••

The helicopter did not last long, but he easily escaped it before it crashed. Soldiers ran toward him, guns blazing, and the aircraft unleashed everything they had. But it was too late. He had made it in time. His systems beeped, alerting him that he had arrived at the exact pole, A timer ticked down in red. He could only hope his partner at the south pole had come through.

•••

“Sir, you’ll want to see this.”

“…are you kidding me? If this is some kind of prank…”

“I’m afraid I am only too serious.”

“It’s the only thing he was carrying besides his armor and weapons, sir.”

•••

His shields arranged themselves to deflect most the gunfire, and his armor could handle the rest. The humans had been close, but not quite close enough. He pulled a flat square container from his utility pack and readied himself. Five seconds remaining.

•••

“So you’re telling me this thing- this- this thing- can only-”

“I am sorry, It is time for me to go. I have work I must do. In the time you have left, I urge you to remember: It’s all a matter of perspective.”

“Sir, containment is failing! He’s-”

•••

The midnight sun turned dark. Oblivion had arrived. Vast beyond imagination, insatiable, incomprehensible. The world fell black and silent.

The countdown finished. The herald of Oblivion took out a slice of white bread with the crusts cut off, and pressed it to the cold, snowy earth. At the exact same moment, his counterpart did the same at the south pole.

The two servants of Oblivion were recalled to their master in a flash of light, and the world-eater opened its terrible maw and began to devour his sandwich.

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