Rianth skipped merrily through the buttercup field.
Her long flowing gown matched her golden hair, the light from above glinting off the various filaments of both.
The child playfully kicked the flowers, breaking them off near the roots. Small clods of soil followed the broken plants through the air as she blazed a trail through the patch. A large preying mantis perching on a stalk of timothy close by watched uninterested.
“Rianth Lee Ling Tulburt, stop that this instant!”, shouted a tall, dark blond woman who was picking blackberries from a patch close-by. “You know those flowers are beings, stop killing them!”
The little girl stopped, folded her small arms and stuck out her bottom lip. Her mean old second mother always spoiled her fun! Well, she’s not gonna do it this time!
Dorliss Ling stood up from her labor and looked at the child, studying her stance. The cross look on her visage softened somewhat when she saw the pout. “C’m here hon”, cajoled the adult, “I want to show you something.”
The child stood her ground at first, determined not to give the adult the benefit of the doubt. But when she saw her second mother bring out the bowl of blackberries from behind her back, Rianth’s resolve broke down and she bounded over to the adult, reaching for the tasty morsels.
Mother and child sat down, the woman stroking the long, golden locks of the child’s hair as she stuffed her mouth full of the juicy berries, “Y’know honey, the flowers are beings too and they hurt when you do that to them”, Dorliss lightly scolded, “They perform an important job for us and the Rock dear, you realize that, don’t you?”
Rianth was only half listening to her second mother, her hands and face purple with berry juice. Even at her tender age of twenty ans, she knew the importance of green plants and what they do for the ecology of the Rock.
The girl knew the difference between “alive” and “not alive”.
“I know Mommy. But everything is so alive today, it just makes me happy and it makes me want to run!”
Dorliss chuckled in spite of herself. A child’s enthusiasm is contagious at times and the timeless quality of it to defuse anger is an easy feeling to go along with.
The bowl of berries was almost empty now, the child had eaten her fill. Dorliss was still lightly stroking the child’s hair, who now was snuggled into the woman’s lap, snoring softly. The preying mantis that was watching the family drama from his perch suddenly leaped into the undergrowth.
Dorliss caught the movement out of the corner of her eye, startling her. Somehow, something doesn’t feel right she thought.
At first, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Dorliss scanned the field around her and her daughter, sending out mental feelers to sense potential dangers. “Odd”, she thought, “Nothing seems to be out of place, there are no scents of predators and I don’t hear anything out of the ordinary.”
But she was missing the obvious, she realized suddenly. Nothing smelled, heard (sound wise and mentally) wrong, the whole scene started to look wrong. Everything wasn’t bright any longer. There was a deliberate lessening of light, like what happened when one closed their eyes for sleep.
Dorliss’ heart sank when she finally realized what was happening around her. The helplessness of what she was witnessing was bringing her on the verge of madness.
Blessedly, the girl was still napping as the environment around her was changing. The mother on the other hand, was struggling to keep her sanity as the light was getting dimmer and dimmer.
Because for the first time in the one-hundred thousand generations of the People’s history on The Rock, Ancient Night was falling.
The alarm went off in Bryq’s head.
It felt like crystal shattering into billions of pieces.
Bryq picked himself ( he preferred the ancient male form ) out of the null field that assembled the template of his virtual body.
Like he had millions of times before.
It wasn’t getting any easier.
It didn’t matter he was an immortal Transcendental. Each wakening incarnation was more mentally draining than the previous.
Especially when every wakening meant he had to deal with his doppleganger Luc.
He hated Luc with every fiber of his virtual quantumness.
Bryq staggered to the washroom ( an ancient affectation ) that materialized. He looked in the false matter mirror as he splashed water on his haggard face and his mussed hair. “Damn”, I look worse every time I come back to life”, he groused.
He wondered why that was.
Isn’t the neutronium Rock supposed to have an infinite energy source?
“Apparently not”, intruded an unwanted thought in Bryq’s consciousness. “There is a minute power drain on the Rock’s systems. That is why the alarm triggered your regeneration.”
Bryq breathed a sigh ( he didn’t need to breath, but old habits die hard ) inwardly and turned his head toward the voice. An immaculate figure with platinum blond hair seated in a gilded golden divan looked back at him.
Bryq hated that bastard.
For an eternity it seemed.
Bryq finished his regeneration ritual. He knew he really didn’t want to ask Luc why there was a power drain on the Rock, like he knew he didn’t want to know how long it was since his last incarnation.
But he know he must.
Just like he knew that Luc couldn’t help being a smarmy asshole.
They made him that way.
“Any reason for the drain, or do I have to play ‘Ask The Idiot’ Luc?” Bryq felt like he had a hangover the size of a galactic cluster, which didn’t help his disposition.
Not that he cared any.
He also wondered what a hangover was.
“Our trajectory is bringing us near the Temporal Portal like Kirn calculated my Master,” Luc smirked sweetly. “But there is an anomalous energy signature glowing in the infrared and tweaking quantum pairs in the local neighborhood.”
The sound of Kirn’s name grated on Bryq’s nerves like long-tailed cats ( what’s a cat? ) locked in a room full of rocking chairs. He was on Bryq’s shit-list too.
“Kirn sitting in his resplendent glory, eh?”, mocked Bryq. “Feh. That shmuck couldn’t calculate where to scratch a spot on his ass.”
Luc just sat in his chair and shook his platinum head, smiling.
There was nothing more enjoyable than listening to Bryq bitch.
It made the loneliness of passing millenia worth it!
“Is it affecting the Portal?”, asked Bryq.
“No power loss at the Portal, if that’s what you’re asking”, replied Luc, “But the Anomaly is having a gravitational affect upon it.”
Bryq thought on this. If the mass of the Anomaly was intense enough, its gravity could affect their entry point into the Portal.
And throw off their destination point by thousands of years.
“What’s its position then?”, Bryq wondered out loud, half asking Luc in the process.
Luc cast his awareness out into the void through the fifth dimension for a quick scan with a distance of two AU. Seconds later he snapped back into the room.
“The Anomaly’s trajectory is tracking away from the Temporal Portal Bryq”, he announced. “And it’s picking up speed as well.”
This is good news thought Bryq. With the Anomaly leaving the Portal’s area, they should have a clear shot to where, and when they have to go.
Then Bryq realized something. “Luc, you said the Anomaly is speeding away from the Portal, right?”
Luc gave him that “of course” look, raising a silver eyebrow, “Yeah, sure. Why do you ask?”
Bryq gulped. “Where is the Anomaly heading Luc?” He had a sinking feeling he knew the answer already.
Luc gave him that crooked, devilish smile he had grown to loath over the many millenia and incarnations he had suffered through. The bastard still couldn’t resist turning the knife in his back when it suited him.
“Oh, didn’t I mention that little detail?”
“Toward us, of course.”