The Shadows Chapter 48
Nuking the Rubicon
By Keith Adams
Five minutes twelve seconds. Five minutes twelve seconds. Five minutes twelve seconds. Five minutes twelve seconds. No; now it was five minutes six seconds. Five minutes five seconds. The cold countdown, mechanical, the same as making toast, although Agemo Guardia never had that oppurtunity. Agemo regretted it slightly; how many things hadn't he done; twas too late now.
Oh, it wasn't exactly the end of the world. Twouldn't knock the Earth off its' axis, and the planet would continue spinning through the void, orbitting, revolving around the sun, burning in its' eternal fusion reaction. The universe would continue on, as always, eternally moving, expanding into - well, who knows? But this corner, this little tract of a pan-galactic real estate would be dimmed somewhat. Less bright, less endearingly annoying, without those pesky Mystics. Some would survive - but this was how it truly ended for their power.
Guardia tapped his foot; all his troubles were being destroyed in one fell swoop. The Mystics power, enduring through millenia and millenia alongside humans, was falling. Guardia looked around the small control room - this was the place where the full force of mankind's science. man's technology would be unleashed, like the man, in the distant past, who reportedly refused an order from the ruling class - a General of some sort - to back down before he reached a river; the man charged across the river, the man did not back down, and the man emerged victorious. Guardia knew this decision was irrevocable, but whether it would end for the best - that was still undecided.
"Excuse me m'lord," said an attendant in a blue uniform "You wanted to see me?"
"Yes I did. I wanted you to find Flint. Did you?" the attendant had a somewhat nasaly voice - it grated a bit.
"No m'lord - he was gone from his quarters. He had gone to see a friend about final preparations - a Mister Smada, I believe. Mr. Thiek Smada."
Marle circled uneasily over the launch site. It was a a grassy area; the grass was a sort of palish green. A few gray tubes extended from the plain. This was where the world would end. Marle swallowed a bit; in a few minutes now, this place would be full of missles, shooting out ot her. Marle clutched her left hand on the firing button. The lasers were set to fire continously in dualed bursts. Lucca assured her that if the missles circuitry were blown out, they'd fail to explode. Marle could only hope she was right.
Flint walked through the darkened hallways of Level 43, the administrators level. Agemo was going to launch despite his doubts. Flint looked along the reddish hallways pulsating with lights traveling through exposed circuits and torchlike lights coming from nowhere in paticulair. It was an eerie place, immiently suitable for myself, thought Flint. Flint arrived at his door; a gray one, plain, sleek.
Flint walked in. There was a light on in the back, nowhere else, by the small table where Flint ate dinner. Flint walked through the various couches and desks populating his quarters. Flint walked into the light; it was shining directly onto the tables center, slightly illuminating the brown haired man lounging idolently on one of the cushioned, high back chairs.
"Ah, there you are Flint," said Thiek, gazing intently on an ornate glass of red wine, holding it up and peering at Flint through it; Thiek made Flint rather uneasy. He always had some scheme ready, and someone else always wound up paying for it.
"Is this a social call?" asked Flint "I was not aware you made those. You aren't due for a good ten minutes yet."
"Ah, yes. We have much to discuss, so I took the liberty of arriving early to insure adequate time for the discussions before - you know," Thiek smiled darkly "Yes, time always has been a problem for me.
Gaspar watched as the shed doors clanked upwards; the night sky was quite beautiful tonight. The moon shimmered brightly, unobscured by the clouds. The stars were shining brightly, but they seemed smaller somehow, more concentrated.
Gaspar looked at the Epoch he had designed and built so long ago. Well, technically Belthasar had designed it, but Gaspar had given it voice, made it work propery. And Gaspar had added some adjustments of his own. They would have to suffice. Gaspar felt a twange of regret; no one had wanted this, least of all him. But this had to happen - there was no dancing around it. Every was closing in, tightening in an implacable vise. Now - now is the time to do or die.
"Finished," said R-007 as his lasers bored through Crono's chains "There are 4 minutes and thirteen seconds until launching, when the gates to the dome will be shut. I reccomend we leave now."
Lucca had already gathered together their equipment. She looked at her companions; Janice was apprehensive, looking about - she had not done this before. Crono was massaging his wrists, seemingly unconcerned with what had to be done. R-007 was expressionless, as always, and Melchior seemed to be pondering a great conundrum.
"Let's go," ordered Lucca, walking into a hallway. There were people pushing past her, so she went the other way. People would be trying to get as far inside as possible, and going outside was her goal. So racing ahead, arms waving in the air, Lucca charged down the hallway, and into the light.
How much had Guardia not done?
Was this really neccesary?
The Mystics had claimed they would counterattack - would they?
Where was Flint?
How would history remember Agemo Guardia?
Why did the Mystics do this all?
Why had weapons powerful enough to force him into this position been developed?
Would something go wrong?
Was this the end
"Shut Dome gates."
"Every domes ready."
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