Although I have uploaded this chapter already, I decided to take another risk and do it again, only with several changes within.
This helps me to keep track of evolving comments and ideas. I have always heard that stories take years to develop, and that's exactly what I'm trying to achieve.
You Have a Choice.
2 February 2165, Centarum Earth
‘Time, What Is It? The Power To Create, To Preserve Or To Destroy?’
Another day passed on Centarum Earth. No other creature, hoofed or winged could be seen except for a golden eagle.
‘But how could something so familiar, be something so mysterious? Are we slaves to time? Or are we players capable of making free choices?’
The eagle began to feel the weight of the communicating device on his eyes and the sharp armor hanging on his wings.
‘All regrettable actions, all decisions made, are they not written into fate? Perhaps our mistakes are not our own, but just amongst the billions of repercussions caused by one single choice-’
He got distracted. Soaring over the landscapes, he sensed the changes in the jagged terrain. Flying close to the cutting grounds, he zeroed in on his destination…
Centarum Earth welcomed him with a dry cold touch.
The eagle looked up at how the clouds changed. Rays from the sun pierced through the delicate fissures while the cirrus slashed and ruptured through the waves of falling debris.
He lowered his head, looking beyond the crimson clouds and the fading cumuli; dying in the setting sun as strands of remaining smoke plough through their bodies. Winds ebbed in the dry desert. The earthly realm was littered with the remnants of a great battle.
The eagle skimmed through a pile of broken steel and twisted rust. Leftover swords stuck out from the cracked grounds like a desolated cemetery. Momentarily, his talons scratched the remains of bone while his claws touched rotting flesh.
The camera around his head clicked and sounded, capturing and transmitting footages of the immense battlefield. The lens on the device zoomed in as he turned to a nearby corpse.
Within just inches of a severed arm lay a golden watch. Inching around the raw flesh, the raptor took the watch in his beak.
Silence. He craned his head around, finding sparse dunes towering above him.
‘There is no life here...’
Murmuring bursts of artillery flashed in the far distance, mixed with the storms of exploding bombshells.
‘What was that?’
The sound was dense and massive; reverberating across the ground before magnifying into seismic levels. They got louder.
The sand dunes exploded! Flying off with his new possession, the eagle watched as an army of creatures emerged, spreading like liquid to the horizon.
‘Phiran.’ Discovered as a completely new race on Centarum Earth during the mid-century, they were soon recognized as a completely new and alien race.
Many thought them to be vile and destructive, humans who were completely warped and mutated by the planet’s hostile conditions. Sharing the same blood as humanity, they carried insatiable hunger for power and dominance.
Lights glowed from the nearby mountains of Manasseh, its saturation casted shadows on the forests at ground level. Its majestic intensity and hue erased all visible distinction of the mountain contours. Deep within its core, levitated a single entity known only as the ‘Doom Horn.’
The eagle’s attention turned to the increasing luminosity of blue from the clouds behind. Spacecrafts bearing the logos of phiran nations darted ahead of him. Their hulls were of grey and scorched metal, armed with an array of energy weapons. He must search faster…
An energy sword fell to the hard grills of a floor. Five soldiers emerged from the battle littered with dead bodies and blood stains. Live wires dangled from the metal skeletons of pillars while walls riddled with hundreds of bullet holes. Icy winds blew in from the mountains, reminding the men of the altitude: a communications tower with a platform 800 meters above ground. It had no walls at the edge, nothing but a straight plunge into the abyss below.
The leader carried a scoped rifle and an energy shield while his men held bulkier weapons.
“This is it?” The leader looked up at the pinnacle. His words were short on breath.
“Doom Horn’s just up there.” The navigator tapped a device on his head. “We have about an hour to destroy it before permanence.”
“Why not make it a celebration?” One of them tossed his shield aside, slinging his shock rifle. “Swords only!”
“Swords it shall be.” The leader gave a sign to advance. “Morbent, I need you to update me on your end of the field.”
The eagle’s transmitter sounded the exact words. He landed on the arm of a younger man with hair in the color of burnt redwood, mixed with a tint of molten gold.
“Do you really want to do this?” Morbent’s voice was deep, yet troubled.
Silence. The leader watched as his men climbed the stairs in songs and sounds of celebrations. He hesitated.
Morbent knew the answer for too long. “Make it quick. Four ships have flown in from the west.”
The leader’s eyes narrowed. A tear rolled down. He looked up at the immense sphere that clouded much of the Horn’s glory.
“A sacrifice is always needed. Remember the baton is now in your hands.”
The eagle took off once more and dived into the sea of clouds. Morbent heard the device cut. With a slouch in his back, Morbent turned around and held back the tears in his eyes.
He recollected the events that led up till now. Assigned as the head for scouting in the operation, Morbent was the master of using trained eagles to be the eye of the battlefield. The men under him were the elites of his organization, chosen by name to assist the offensive team while remaining completely invisible under the harshest terrains of the frigid Manasseh highlands. Morbent and his men had to account for all air armadas within the 100-mile radius of the mountains. Their abilities to sense the battlefield and utilize the natural landscapes were impeccable.
‘Great change comes with a great sacrifice.’
Morbent recalled that very same line the leader spoke of during that final briefing. Yet it began to haunt his mental faculties.
‘Fate is never a merciful master.’
Morbent had explained how the sorcerers who had developed the Horn had designed it with a protective sphere of anti-matter. Any physical contact with the core will cause it to self-destruct and annihilate anything within a 40-mile radius. Yet the warriors volunteered their very lives just to end the war that day.
He could never accept the reality of his close friend becoming a martyr. Worse, he had to be the one leading and willingly proposing the action.
‘Raynor you fool, look what your belief in fate had cost you!’ Morbent’s thoughts mixed in adrenaline as thelights intensified from the anti-matter reaction. He knew the warlocks had to cloud its sphere to prevent people from going blind. He knew, because he had been there…
Winds began to unite in one orientation. Leaves took off from their branches while snow and frost turned from solid to gas. Morbent’s squad sought cover in their trenches and behind erected force shields.
The glow within the clouds began to increase in luminosity.
Clouds around the sphere cleared in a complete vacuum.
Trees began to bend. The canopy flooded with millions of debris and icicles in the wind. Clouds vanished around the core of the Horn, displaced by the sudden nova of light.
Morbent’s team could feel the shockwaves magnifying into earthquakes as they hit the mountain cities.
Matter from the surrounding mountains was sucked back into the rising updraft, snaking skywards within the immense mushroom cloud. The plume broke through the atmosphere and kept on rising.
He managed to catch only a glimpse of a beam of energy shooting through the cloud layers. He knew the Doom Horn was not destroyed, instead it would have reverted back into its original state: the Horn of Peace.
He tossed his shield aside, letting the full reality sink into his mind. ‘Was your sacrifice even necessary, Raynor?’ He thought.
Morbent remembered the day he helped his friend into the armed forces. After much persuasion, Raynor entered with delight.
Still, Morbent knew he should never have agreed. That one regrettable decision had caused him a friend’s life…and now, a new burden, forced into his hands.
Soldiers took off their helmets with solemn mourning. Some wept for their brethren, others looked down with regret, knowing well that the entire five-year war will be a pyric victory.
‘You saved me from the guild. Yet, I let you die...’
The eagle landed once more, feeling the hardened soil beneath his talons. He searched, noting how the wastelands spread to the point where the arsenic earth met the sulfuric skies.
Then at last, the eagle stopped, realizing he had found his master. He went forth, yet finding only his charred and burnt body. His sword was marked with battle scars. The raptor placed the watch in front of his keeper, letting his tears fall onto the dead man’s hand.
Isolation, the eagle stood between a broken arch of stone in the middle of a thousand corpses.
For ten long years, the victory diminished, and the Collision War itself stood like a mere myth.
Humanity was unforgiving, yet they chose to be the victims of the war. They feared the phirans out of pride and hatred, avoiding any confrontation at all costs.
Every hero was forgotten, history will never be learned from.
A Cartwheel Of Fate Has Turned.