Project: AKRA pt 12

***

The short cycles of the planet had given way to day as they trudged forward with no resistance, back to walking on the razor grass sawing slowly in the sunlight.  They marched forward with four of them still fully ‘armed’ in the limb sense of the word but at this point met no enemies.

Everyone knew what was coming before they actually rolled onto the bare ground, based on the loud roaring starting to filter through the trees.  Though Leio and Ziko were both reduced in combat efficiency, their squad was still in fairly good fighting capacity.  They made it through the surprise of the night, and still had four people capable of shooting larger weapons.  However, this new challenge they were coming up to was going to prove trying.

“There is no way we are making it across that,” Ziko said.  He knelt down to let Leio off of his shoulders as she sat down on the ground so he could better look over the edge of the cliff.  They stood next to some rocks and a tree, using the light cover as they looked over the shear corner of the massive cliff to the rumbling water hardly visible through the mist below.  On both sides of them the deep gorge was cut through the rock with no easy way down, and the height did not get any less extreme anywhere close that they could hike to make the descent easier.

“The two of them could not hope to swim across that water,” Agrest said, keeping his head turned upwards most of the time for any drones that might come flying over the tree tops.

“I have faith they could, but the risk is too great.”  Raist looked up and down the escarpment they were located on.  “It’d be better if the two of you stayed here to cover our escape.”

From where they were, the tip of the peak was barely visible against the tall trees of the other side of the river.  Their goal was close, but in every way seemed farther with every step they took.

“From here you guys should be able to build a pretty good choke point in the rocks over there.  The three of us are going to do a sprint to the target, and come back.  There is a good chance we will need as much cover fire and a clear path as possible on our way back.”

Agrest pointed to the rocks.  “It’s a good plan, since I’d hate trying to descend and climb back up with things shooting at us.  If you two have this locked down, it should help our escape.”

Raist finished, “Ziko, I am going to need you well-rested because as soon as we get here, we are running back to the extraction zone. I do not want to be in the forest again for another night.  The three of us should be able to handle AKRA, and I know you are strong, but we cannot be slowed even if you are carrying Leio.”

The problem was they had to make it back out of anti-air range to call their shuttle down.  Even if it was capable of firing, with how defended their target was, calling it anywhere close was risking being trapped here.

The group worked for a bit, positioning rocks and checking sight patterns so that the two staying behind would have clear cover fire on the three advancing members, both on the descent, the swim, and the climb before they disappeared into the other side.  Natural rock walls covered their backs, and a few shots through the rocks gave them some gun holes to fight anything that did come from the forest.  The three advancing soldiers dropped all but one weapon here so they could move faster now that the mission had become one of a sprint.

“Goodbye, Raist,” Leio told him as they embraced.  Raist was having to hold her up.  “I hope I see you again.  I really do.”  Her foot was realigned, but the large section of meat missing from her calf was something he tried to not look at.

“I’ll be back soon.”  He gave her butt a light squeeze as he turned away from her.  They spiked their rappel systems into the rock and Agrest and Philira already jumped over the edge.  Raist was preparing to do the same when a strange thought came to him.

‘Look at her one more time; it might be your last.’  He turned to face her, and she did a small wave, smiling at him, the normalcy making him think he was over-thinking again.  He turned back towards the cliff and crouched and launched off.

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Proud Infinity pt 33

2nd to last post for the story, I hope you guys are enjoying it.

“The ship’s security card is over there.” She pointed to a building that we walked towards.

“How the hell are you doing this?”

“You remember asking about my Chrono Psionics?  Well, even the most developed on the physical plane fall fairly flat with ours.  Now that the time fracture is gone, all the various pathways in front of us are clear.  I am just choosing, and telling you, the correct ones.”

“Isn’t that kind of powerful if you can see all the options time could take, and I am able to act on it?”

“Quite so.”  She nodded turning around to look at me for a moment.

“A limitless actor, who is given perfect information…”

A guard had opened a door in the back of the building and turned away from us, propping the door open with his foot while he went to the bathroom.

Proud nodded to me. “It’s the red one with an orange stripe.”  I slipped in behind the guy, hoping I could see the card easily, which I did, and grabbed it painfully in my mouth, slipping back out and around the corner.

“Unbelievable,” I said between closed teeth, shaking my head, holding the exact card she said I would find.

I was about to walk in front of the guard’s shack when she grabbed my arm, shaking her head.  “He is going to see this regardless, and a lot of other paths are converging here.  We just have to run now.  The ship is the silver one with the red trim on its tail fin.  I gave you enough energy that you should be able to manage it.”

I nodded and we started running.  A bit later I heard yelling and a few shots exploded across the pad.  Twice Proud physically pushed me to one side or another while a round hit exactly where I once was.  I held the card up and the ship responded, then we both jumped in as the door closed.  I was breathing hard, holding the ground, then lifted my body up and started laughing before she joined in on my jubilation.

“We did it!”

“Not yet,” she said coldly.  I looked at her with worry.  “Start the ship, then we will be okay!” She laughed at what was probably a joke to her.

“Right.”  I nodded and went to the bridge, starting the ship with a few pushes of my chin and hitting a random coordinate in it.  Suddenly the ship was taking off.  The ruins of the ReCorp building were visible as we gained altitude. “Do time fractures happen often?”

She shook her head, frowning. “Unbelievably often.  Just about every space faring race runs into this at least once through their various particle accelerators trying to ‘understand’ the universe.  They never realize they will not understand anything that way.  It only leads to destruction.”

“Thanks for coming to save me.  Seriously.” My head went back and forth a bit, maybe trying to shake itself free of everything going on in it.  “But now, is that it?  You are off to stop another time fracture?  Are you going to leave me?”

“Only if you want me to.”

“Hardly.  I’d love you to stay with me.  If I could be so selfish to request it.”

“Well, then I will!” she stated loudly, hugging me.

“Isn’t it your job to stop the fractures?”

“It was.  Perhaps you do not understand.  I was created to stop that fracture, and now it is stopped.  So in a way, I am without a purpose.  You felt purposeless, but I am much more so.  You were born, in the physical sense, and I was born in a different sense, with my sole purpose being to pair with the most responsive physical element, that’s you, and stop this local time fracture.  So now my purpose is complete.  It is like the immune system of your body, the task is complete now I am adrift.”

Proud Infinity pt 21

Never seeing her proved okay for a while, but then the regret grew, and with no counter to my dark thoughts, they surged endlessly.  My thoughts turned back towards something I had fallen into early in the loops: could I kill myself out of this nightmare?  I tried…oh god, I tried.  But no.  I would die, and then the universe would later in the cycle, the time fracture traveling backwards past the point of my own death to the morning as it always did.  Each cycle, wake up, grab the pistol, pull the trigger.  Instantly wake back up in the same room, but dealing with the emotional fallout of ‘surviving’ a suicide.

I felt my body shaking from the fear of itself from the horror I had inflicted on it in the name of escaping.  Or trying to anyway.  I could not get out.

“I’m so so sorry…” I whimpered to myself, hugging myself to try to believe it.  My eyes were watering.  This was so painful, so confusing.

I was shaking hard at the overwhelming memories.  ‘The positive, just focus on it.  Just focus…’ But all I could do was grit my teeth at yet more regret.  How the hatred I felt at myself for taking advantage of Proud that turned to suicide, then to unrequited rage at the girl who was the singular cause of the nightmare I was in.

I was on this endless rollercoaster of extreme emotions throughout the loops.  Even after all the regret towards Proud, it then turned to anger.  Blaming her for somehow involving me in all this.  I didn’t want any of this, I didn’t want this nightmare.

My teeth hurt from how hard I was biting down, trying to not remember the time I tried killing her.  Despite the slow learner I seemed to be with everything else, I only did this once.

I leveled the Liner pistol right at her.  ‘Die bitch’ I had said to her confused face.  I pulled the trigger, unloading half the clip into her, but…but it went right through her.  I fell to my knees.  ‘You really are just a figment of my imagination,’ crying at how crazy I was.

‘Would it make you feel better to actually let you shoot me?  Try it Trego, if you really want, as dark as this path has become.’  To which my teary face pulled the trigger again at her, and was shocked when he body recoiled away, blood, or something similar, exploding out the backside.  ‘Proud?’  I asked to her dead body, the bloody ribbon covering a massive crater in her head.  The shock was so severe I turned the pistol on myself, and the darkness only crept on.

“No!”  I shouted, trying to forget.  Just remember the good, the times I actually was productive, not lost in despair or hatred.  “It was not always bad!  That was when I started changing!”  I yelled to the world, trying to make it real.

Yes, focus on how during my self-killing spree, Proud came to me one trigger pull away and asked if there was anything she could do.  I had not seen her since the crime of killing her, or perhaps crimes, I committed against her, and her innocent appearance before me nearly caused me to follow through yet again with the trigger.  But I stopped long enough for her to tell me it pained her to see me this way, and ask why I was like this.  She was here to help if I would only ask.

I told her reluctantly a big part of it was how bad I felt for taking advantage of her when so much was at stake, both having sex with her, and later shooting her in another iteration.  When she laughed loudly, I lowered the pistol out of confusion.  ‘How did you take advantage of me, if we both wanted it?’ she asked.  She did not even mention the time when I had shot her because to her it was nothing.  She said she was entirely joyful for the experience, and did not regret anything and wondered why I did.  She said that the physical plane was overwhelming in its feelings, and to have experienced something like that with me, well, she’d remember forever.  She said she loved me and hoped I would have asked earlier, or again.  She lowered my pistol and we held hands, me crying for hours in her simple embrace until the end came again.

Proud Infinity pt 20

The killing sprees honed my abilities.  I learned to fight with my fists, knives, my Liner pistol.  Each cycle was a new challenge.  How many could I kill with just my hands, or could I beat my score using my gun?  It became this dark abyss where others only existed to see how many I could blow through.  It didn’t matter when I was maimed, shot or imprisoned, I was reset every morning.

With women it was another challenge and at this point I no longer cared about ‘knowing them’ as it was pointless.  It was easy at gunpoint but didn’t stimulate me the same way of manipulating their minds with perfect words and actions.  My respect for them tanked down to zero.  I could get any girl to be with me, it didn’t matter how loyal or pure she was.  Enough predictive power or perfect words and they all melted.  Eventually that game grew boring as well.

By the way, Proud?  It was easy.  I only had to ask.  She was more than happy for the overwhelming feelings of the physical realm, and indeed it was quite amazing from my end; but that was the largest regret I had.  Amidst my absolute depravity she represented perhaps the one untainted thing in this fractured world I inhabited, and I proceeded to destroy that as well.

My curiosities turned to sorrow and anguish.  The hedonism left me cold and empty, the shallowness overwhelming that I had given in to.  Soon it became a burden, thinking of all the crimes I had committed, even if they were not longer ‘actually done’.  The pointlessness of everything amplified by a thousand experiences I had now come to hate.  Especially what I did with Proud…or maybe it’d be better to say ‘what I did to Proud’.

We had come to love each other through the circumstance we were now in, a deep friendship from the stories we shared.  Our friendship was not one of two different races of a physical being and a near-energy being creating a physical body, but of two consciousnesses that liked each other from so much time together.

Then I had sex with her simply to satisfy a burning question of if she would.  And she did, and she loved it.  As soon as it was over, I started crying.  I was so stupid, so shallow.  Defiling the last totem of sanity in this world left me broken and under no more delusions of how messed up I had become.

What the fuck was wrong with me?  The universe was counting on my freewill to prevent this time fracture, and I was doing this to its incarnation?  I was murdering people, manipulating every woman I could into sex, and fucking LineGod Proud instead of doing anything productive.  I felt endlessly evil for taking advantage of her which I did many times ‘just to make sure’.  That sent me on an even darker spiral for many, many time fractures.

I swung my arm around, trying to grab something else.  I grabbed something soft, pulling it towards me; it was my white shirt.  On the floor, holding the white shirt and the desk brought forth more grim memories of the even further pits I fell into.

‘But she was the sensual one, she wanted it!’  I would lie to myself, trying to justify the single action I hated myself the most for.  My personal best for kills was over a thousand using just a pistol, most women was over ten, and that was due to my own physical limitation, but none of those compared to the final break in sanity by using Proud.

Her name was ‘Proud’ and that was nowhere near what I felt about my actions, only all-consuming regret and self-hatred.  The shame was overwhelming, and then it was eventually mixed with hopelessness of my position.  I had forsaken seeing Proud again because I felt so bad for what I did for so many times before I finally snapped.

Proud Infinity pt 16

As usual her excuse was ready.  “The magnitude of the reality effect is proportional to the energy required.  I am strong, but not that strong.  Crashing that display machine was easy; its impact was small as only two were actual witnesses to it, and its overall impact to true reality is minor.  And actually the wall was even easier.  That male did not notice it, and to you it does not matter especially given the end to this thread we are rapidly hurtling towards.  But I cannot bring about massive changes to reality that will persist down through time.  Not alone anyway.”

I played along a little, but it was only a little.  I actually started wondering if this crazy girl and her crazy story might be real.

“Okay, so I understand that I think.  By stopping this, while the actual action of stopping it might be small, you are somehow bound by something that is related to the magnitude of its impact that it ‘persists through time’.  So since this is infinitely important given that the universe gets wiped out, it cannot be done by you?”

“You are quite adept at piecing this together Tre.”

‘Damn, talk about Chrono pathways, if this is true.  We really were onto something in my old research…’  In my own mind the various theories of time and ‘threads’ of intersecting time lines began to take on a much more real manifestation.

I bent down, grabbing a rock, then pitched it over the fence as it fell down and down.   “But why could I stop this then?  I mean you are a shape-shifting girl who can blow walls down, I’m a chump with a gun.”

A deep grin took over her. “I thought you were at least an ‘advanced chump’!”

I froze.  “How did you know that?”

Her smile was good-natured.  “You still don’t believe me, do you?”

“Would you believe me that something dumb like that made me believe you way more?”

“Our harmonic rate is finally increasing!  Anyway, what you have is the power of the physical plane inhabitants.  Where your freewill does exist,” and she tilted her head down to me, “and not to say it always does, your impacts are infinite in their potential magnitude.  You are not bound by what your actions may cause down the time thread.

“That kind of implies you lack freewill as well in some circumstances?” I asked her.

“Yes, but our definition of ‘freewill’ is far more different, let’s just leave it there.  But remember this physical plane is the base from which the others arise and affect.  I can affect this freely, in direct inverse proportion to what its impacts are.”  She teleported beyond the fence, and was hovering in the air, her hair and ribbon slowly swaying in a breeze from the updraft of the massive pit.  She lifted her hands wide to her sides, and had a playful grin on, like a kid at a playground.

“Whoa…”  My mouth was open, watching her silently floating in the air.  Okay, she definitely looked more ‘godlike’ in this simple example.  I had little doubt remaining something serious was occurring here.

“However, as a physical, your actions are inherently very limited in your options.  For example, you cannot do this.  However, the scope of your impact can be, and indeed is, limitless.  So in a way, you are the weakest, but also the strongest.”

“Ha, so it’s like we are in the steerage of a ship.  Everyone above us can dump their trash on us and do what they want, but if we sink the boat, everyone else is going down too.  Evidently, the ship sinking attracted at least someone’s attention.”  I sat down and crossed my legs, and she teleported over and sat next to me as we looked over to the building.  She put her hand on my leg.  The touch was a bit surprising, but it felt comforting.  I liked her.

It was a bit scary that the sunset had now begun.  Soon that sphere of nothingness would be created, and everything would end.

Proud Infinity pt 13

Hey guys hope you are enjoying the story!

 

I had no clue what she was talking about, so went onto something else.  I was going to find a flaw in this girl’s story.  “So Proud, that is your name, right?” She nodded.  “If you need my help, why can’t someone like him help you?”  I pointed to the bartender.

“Lacks higher-level consciousness.  Just a shell, that any work laid would be lost in the fracture; amplified by an inability to detect…or perhaps an unwillingness to do so.”

“Lacks consciousness?  Is he an android?”

“No, he is Solarian.  Do you perhaps not understand the word?  Maybe are our definitions different?”

“I don’t know; why don’t you try telling me?”

She stopped, closing her eyes. “Let me try to remember the most effective way I was able to convey this.”  There was silence for a while.  “To say it is complicated for your mind would be a massive understatement, but in a way perhaps it is the simplest truth.  Are you familiar with the term some members of your race know as ‘Axl’?”

“No.”  I could feel the situation would be one that whoever I was talking to might normally be frustrated that I was not grasping whatever experiment I was in, yet I felt only complete patience from the strange girl.  I had my annoyances with her, but her tolerance was winning me over.

“Okay, well…”  she paused while she thought, “your body and mind are ultimately recyclable.  Your race understands this as ‘The Line’.  This shouldn’t be a surprise for you.  When you die, all that energy will, in one way or another, will be utilized again.  However, consciousness, or maybe call it ‘high level awareness’, has a reality of its own too.  It is not part of these dimensions you normally call ‘reality’.  It ultimately influences this reality, but low levels or non-existence in awareness often reverses the circumstances; meaning this reality instead influences the weak awareness.”

“You are kind of losing me, can you explain?”

“My last sentence was the best explanation.  Essentially, at high levels of consciousness, there exists a sort of manifesting ability, whereas as low levels, reality instead changes or crushes the consciousness.”  She stopped talking, waiting to see if I understood.

“Nothing real can be taken away,” I stated, recalling some philosophical thing I had heard once which seemed appropriate here; I said it more to try to pretend I knew what she was talking about than any real understanding I had of what she was saying.

Her huge grin was worth my statement as her happiness was very infectious.  “Exactly, Tre!  If it is there, it cannot be taken away!  That is exactly why you were the one selected.  Your awareness and openness targeted you out right away.”  Seeing her so happy and exited made me feel a bit happy as well; I smiled at my ability to have made her happy.

“So, are you even real, or do we have some other dimensional thing going on here?”

“Oh I am real, but to drop into this dimension takes a vast amount of energy and concentration.  See?”  She gripped my arm hard, and it actually hurt.  I had no doubt her slightly muscular arms belied massive strength that could completely crush through my arm.  “But as consciousness affects your reality, this is why I am only visible to you.  To influence one reality is much easier than all of them.”

“But, if I am more aware of reality, wouldn’t that make it harder for you to come here?  I’d be more aware that what is going on here should not be happening in normal circumstances.  Wouldn’t that guy be easier to influence or whatever?”

“Of course, but to what avail?”

She disappeared, and I sat back in surprise, looking around.  The guy was watching a screen that suddenly shut off.  “What the?”  He sat up, slapped the screen and it fall off the counter in what seemed like excessive movement for his light touch.  He swore a bit, and went to trying to fix it.  Proud was back at her chair.

She gave me a girlish smile.