Written & Drawn By
December 10, Day 344: Mission’s End
Mallika Singh watched Earth die, species by species, hour by hour, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
Were her new friends gone? She came here on instincts that never fail, to find them after peeling apart from the blissful union she’d shared with Mister Cresp.
Searching the planet again seemed fruitless. She had already scoured it a thousand times. By the time she started searching too many bodies were already beyond recognition. Everything on this cursed world that once lived was now consuming everything else that once lived. Dead eating dead. Until a mere twitch in a dune of organic debris is the only sign that life flourished abundantly here just 27 hours ago.
Mallika’s abilities as E-Cloud had sharpened intensely as a result of melding temporarily with Mister Cresp. She envied his companionship with Twilight Force. Knowing them saved her sanity. As E-Cloud she saw too much, went too far, got lost in one far-flung distraction after another that had nothing to do with humanity or civilized behavior. She had been E-Cloud for a long time. She was forgetting how to feel human until Cresp came along. This experience shocked her into realizing how far adrift from humanity she’d grown.
E-Cloud finally investigated the origin of this planetary blight. The architects of doom were aliens she encountered before. She’d seen their work several times. They liked to experiment on humanoids. They used whole planets of people and things for mere amusement.
Then Mister Cresp appeared nearby, close but not too close, avoiding possible matter/antimatter destruction.
“Mister Cresp, what have they done to our world? Your friends…?”
Cresp: “This isn’t our Earth. It’s one of many. Twilight Force was never here. They’ve been spread by the Hywon to other Earths.”
December 11th, The 345th Day
Kraxzys: “This Earth situation is getting out of control.”
Yorgle: “Which Earth, Kraxzys?”
Kraxzys: “All of them! Scout Command reported alarming news. Three times as many Earths as we thought existed have been found – in our galaxy alone!”
Yorgle: “How could they have missed them?”
Kraxzys: “They have excuses. Black clouds. Unusual stars. But whatever the reason, the estimate is now 77 Earths for every one of our home world planets. And 92% of them are either growing, nurturing or have sprung humanoids.”
Yorgle: “More sprung? That’s alarming.”
Kraxzys: “This one and that one have fully interstellar civilizations developing. Do you realize how dangerous this is?”
Yorgle: “Kraxzys, I remember – I was there – when the Gordons appeared on Phantahgo.”
Kraxzys: “Humans with full mastery over perpetual energy. Terrifying. Their actions are driven by instinct. A simple misunderstanding and the culture and lives of uncountable Hywons were decimated.”
Yorgle: “And the infections! It took everything we had to eradicate that outbreak.”
Kraxzys: “At their rate of evolution there may be no stopping them. We have to learn much more about them; so that we can deal with them… or somehow destroy them.”
Yorgle: “My agents have dispatched the members of the Twilight Force to the Earths you ordered. We’ll get some information from that monitoring shortly.”
Kraxzys: “Good, I split Twilight Force between various experimental Earths. This classification of Earths is so abundant that they pose the greatest threat to choke the galactic environment. These experiments may show us how to deal with them.”
Yorgle: “Strange creatures, humans. To have come so far technologically yet to still be motivated by predatory impulses. No other beings have been discovered with such incongruity.”
Kraxzys: “I hate them. They make me shiver. Let’s not talk about them any more. Brr.”
December 12th, Day 346
The Gamesman: “Look, man, I’m not trying to mess with you. I’m not a God, okay? I don’t know Odin, or Balder, or Loki, or… get it? Okay?”
The Coral Ostman: “I will not reveal your true nature to anyone, I swear. I understand the Gods like to walk among men, to… well, to…”
The Gamesman: “…Go for a walk?”
The Coral Ostman: “No – Have at the maidens. Ah! Is that what you hold out for? An offering of the flesh?”
The Gamesman: “I am not holding out! I just don’t want to get involved! I just want to rejoin my friends and go… uh…”
The Coral Ostman: “Go where? You’re lying -! I mean – being – deceitful – in a god-like manner…”
The Gamesman: “No, it’s just that we don’t really have a place to go right now. We had a bit of a disaster to deal with. I just want to get back to them.”
The Coral Ostman: “Then go.”
The Gamesman: “What?”
The Coral Ostman: “Go.”
The Gamesman: “Okay, but… I need a ride.”
The Coral Ostman: “And I need the help of your magic luck to find our Moonchild.”
The Gamesman: “I’m not so sure you want me to find your Moon-child. How old is she?”
The Coral Ostman: “She is not the maiden for you.”
The Gamesman: “Yeah? Hey, who’s the deity around here? Aren’t those decisions of a higher order in your realm?”
The Coral Ostman: “I assure you, even the luck of a God will not extend to your personal enjoyment of the female we seek.”
The Gamesman: “So you’re saving her for yourself, huh?”
The Coral Ostman: “Now I have to kill you.”
The Gamesman: “No? Oops. Sorry! Sorry – okay! Well, you said you had a lead, so…”
December 13th, Day 347
Doctor Nopoin could only wonder why the Hywon sent her to this Earth. The human population was plentiful, but there was something wrong. Their immune systems weren’t behaving like any the physician had seen before. And they were generally beleaguered like none preceding them.
The Doctor had her personal survival needs as well. She was dropped on her own to find her way in this odd civilization. Her artificial cells required the same renewal energies as organic cells, derived from solar, atmospheric and aquatic resources.
This Earth was thickly clouded, in part covered by a haze of polluted dust that made for fantastic sunsets. It was too murky to supply Doctor Nopoin with all her solar needs.
This Earth was also dry. It had oceans but atmospheric humidity never rose above 7%. Fires broke out spontaneously. Worldwide rain occurred for one week annually, causing predictable but terrifying floods that inevitably caught and killed millions in their shifting paths.
Did the Hywon expect Nopoin to help these people? Or did they want to see if she succumbed like everyone else to this quasi-hellish ball of misery?
But even while fighting an uphill battle for replenishment, curiosity drew her toward hypothetical explanations for many of the physical maladies she casually observed.
…Just as the Hywon expected. For one of the questions Kraxzys thought Nopoin could help them answer was…
Kraxzys: “…Can the diseases that come with humanoids be neutralized? If any of them can’t be stopped, I want to know.”
Yorgle: “Once such a disease is isolated we can weaponize it within days.”
Kraxzys: “And within weeks after that, the pestilence of humanoids will stop spreading throughout our galaxy. Then we can worry about the rest of the local bubble. Keep watching that Doctor Nopoin creature for answers.”
December 14th, Day 348
Scalar: “Do you understand how to transport now?”
Ichnida: “I think so. But how do I get where I want to go?”
Scalar: “When you want to go, think of that place and envision it. Be there. And you will be there.”
Ichnida: “Did you think of this place?”
Scalar: “I did. This Earth has technologically advanced life in its oceans. I thought it might remind you of your lost home.”
Ichnida: “I don’t want to think about my losses. Not now. I’ll choose that time when it’s appropriate.”
Scalar: “How can you – forget?”
Ichnida: “I can’t. That’s just it. It’s always here. Right here! Every loss that I’ll never get back, every person I’ll never see again, every place I’ll never be. I don’t need reminders. I need distractions.”
Scalar: “Figured life provides plenty of that.”
Ichnida: “Why didn’t you use your knowledge of aqua-dimensional transport to return to your home instead of staying in Rogue Galaxy with the Intergalactic Council?”
Scalar: “I was never destined to return home. Explorers from my world set out for life, never to return, ever to discover and always to report home as possible. We are those who need no one and meet everyone. Yet when you left us in the 5th dimension – I wanted to see you again.”
Ichnida: “How did you know where to find me?”
Scalar: “I thought of you… I envisioned you… And I was with you.”
Ichnida: “…Once you positioned yourself in the vector of the confluence wave?”
Scalar: “Yes, like I showed you.”
Ichnida: “Should we save that human?”
Scalar: “For dinner?”
Ichnida: “No, from those…! Uh… Hmm.”
Scalar: “We are getting hungry.”
Ichnida: “And just when I’ve been trying to quit. Damn”
Scalar: “Think we can take them?”
Ichnida: “Just stop.”
December 15th, Day 349
The Coral Ostman: “This is not a place I’m familiar with. It’s far from the hub of any important Earth activity. Why would Moonchild come here? It’s a desert.”
The Gamesman: “It’s Las Vegas. The driver said he dropped off the bald girl off in Las Vegas.”
The Coral Ostman: “Why trust what he said?”
The Gamesman: “Because I shook his hand with my ‘good luck’ hand, increasing the probability that anyone who offered information would be fruitful. I think. I never tried it before. But we found him after landing in New Jersey and going through two other leads, so…”
The Coral Ostman: “This growing township appears to be a haven for gambling. It couldn’t be that your ‘good luck hand’ has brought you here for personal gain, could it?”
The Gamesman: “Hey now. I had not thought of that. Hmm. You think? Maybe we should start looking for Moonchild at the Golden Nugget. Right over there…?”
The Coral Ostman: “It would be unfortunate if your good luck hand was wasting the precious time we have left to find the Moonchild. I might decide that you don’t really need it any more.”
The Gamesman: “We’re on a deadline? What’s up?”
The Coral Ostman: “She’ll die down here within days. Her immune system is being exposed to deadly germs.”
The Gamesman: “Oh, sure, of course – hey wait! So is mine! And yours?”
The Coral Ostman: “I’ve had my shots. I’m not stupid. But Moonchild ran off unprepared. We have to find her soon.”
The Gamesman: “Are you her Dad? I’ll bet you’re her Dad, right?”
The Coral Ostman: “Just find her!”
The Gamesman: “Okay, alright! I have to ask around some more. Hey, do we have any of the local cash? I’m starving!”
The Coral Ostman: “We’d be wasting food on a corpse if you don’t find Moonchild.”
December 16th, Day 350
Flamear tracked the wandering tribe led by Nguvu Onamandla, matriarch of a religious exploratory mission launched from western Africa who found themselves upon the shores of eastern America.
Nguvu sought to discover what happened to the Sun at night, when it apparently sank into the ocean, and her society launched expeditions of discovery every year on the night of the twin stars. The explorers were not to return without an answer.
In their quest the Sun outraced them again and again, overhead at noon but far beyond them by dark, until they hit the shores of America. To discover the answer, they would have to move across the land, again into the unknown. None ever returned to Africa.
A golden bull, suddenly startled by the tribe, turned and attacked Nguvu and swiftly carried her away. The tribe and Flamear ran after them.
Nguvu defended herself admirably, but something was holding her back.
“She won’t harm the bull,” said a tribesman suddenly standing beside Flamear. “Our people value the sanctity of all life.”
“But the bull wants to harm her,” Flamear smelled as it tossed her raggedly.
Sensing that the beast would kill her in its rage, Flamear dove into its side hooves first, driving quartz spikes into its organs. Wounded gravely but able to survive, it fled as best it could.
From a billion miles away, cold eyes watched Flamear’s progress.
Yorgle: “Why observe raw animal combat?”
Kraxys: “On this Earth I question humanoid instincts. Do they resort to instinct or are they capable of sustaining reason under any conditions?”
Yorgle: “When you’re finished, you’ll know everything necessary to eradicate the humanoid threat to life in the galaxy.”
Kraxys: “And then the value of that knowledge will serve us well in our future dealings with other galaxies. Keep watching.”
END week 50