Chapter IX : The New World IV

Chapter IX : The New World

“ Apocalypse ”

Errol’s world seemed to stop when an innumerable amount of small voices bombarded her head. She could hear each one clearly and her mind struggled to keep up. After she tried to make sense of what was going on, it finally struck her that the voices were not of the World’s tardigrades, but of Apocalypse’ passengers. Those were the same small voices which called her down to the Mechanism a long time ago.

“ Would you like to see? “ they asked, “ … see how we arrive? See what happened? See where you came from? “

The Overlord relaxed her grip on her bone knife. The wings on her back were shattered to many black shards, and then, she closed her eyes. Errol breathed deeply as the flames raged on, kept alive by the World’s tardigrades. Eight remained unable to fight it, nearly immobile. When her allies assured her that everything would be alright, the armored girl finally nodded.

“ Show me, “ she whispered.

She felt a sudden rush into her head as the Apocalypse’ tardigrades went into her body. Kept in check by the World’s Ancient Ones, the invaders merely used their abilities to form images in Errol’s mind. A collage of many scenes almost made her dizzy, but soon, it slowed down. She saw a vast, dark and seemingly empty expanse that was dotted by distant sources of light. Errol then realized that she looked at the past through the eyes of Apocalypse’ tardigrades.

For a while, nothing happened. They just sat there on a slightly icy ball of dust. They traveled towards the direction of the sun and followed a very elliptical path, until suddenly, the icy ball was hit by something which was even more frozen and massive. The tardigrades’ home spun out of control until it reached a blue and white sphere. And then… complete darkness.

The tardigrades fell asleep. That was their coping mechanism. But a little later, they woke up to the sound of unfamiliar voices. It was their first interaction with the Earth’s creatures called humans. Those bipedal creatures referred to their icy, dusty home as Apocalypse. Without warning, the humans then cut up their home into nine pieces, the largest of which was the only one left in its original spot. The tardigrades were furious, but they could do nothing. The humans could not see nor hear them.

The ancient tardigrades hated the humans, and they also despised the creatures which the bipeds referred to as bacteria. To them, the ancient travelers of space, bacteria were ugly mistakes of nature. The tardigrades preferred to stay away from humans and animals which arrived near their home for they carried bacteria all over the place. In contrast, they liked plants which were home to fewer bacteria. Occasionally, the tardigrades went to sleep though the sounds of humans’ workings did wake them up every now and then. They were almost appeased when the bipeds brought different plants into the cavern and left them there.

As the humans of that rocky planet which, the tardigrades noticed, was called Earth continued their work, the ancient creatures learned a little about their plans. The bipeds, as dumb as they seemed, managed to create a pattern which was similar to the blueprint of creatures which they called tardigrades. Errol was slightly puzzled by the lack of surprise or alarm from the ancient ones, but she realized that the passengers of Apocalypse did not know that humans referred to their kind with that name. The creatures of Apocalypse merely referred to themselves as ‘us’ or ‘we’, for they thought that names were unnecessary.

The humans also spoke of something about a chain reaction in the solar system, the destruction of the moon as the Earth spun out of orbit, and the death of the core. Errol understood nothing of it, except for the bit about the moon. She read in ancient books that a large rock once lit up the night sky, but it was no longer present in the Age of the Sun. While some of them talked on, other humans attached things to the largest piece of Apocalypse. Once it was done, they called it the Mechanism.

The Apocalypse tardigrades thought that the humans would finally leave, but they returned to do just one last thing. They brought a plant that had a dark green body and one completely black blossom. Humans called it a black rose.  As cruel as it sounded, they separated the rose from its body; the body from its rose. They then left the plant in the Mechanism and tightly locked its small doors into place. As they turned away, Errol heard that the humans spoke about the pattern of the black rose and how it was the key… that someday, it would return to be reunited with its body.

Many dark moments passed. Errol felt that the tardigrades grew stronger somehow and soon, they were able to influence that plants which were around them. She watched the once tame plants grow larger, some even became mobile, and many began to glow with a strange white light. She felt as if much time passed and then, suddenly, she saw… herself. It was that day, that time, that moment when she reached the Mechanism. She felt that the tardigrades sensed her and knew her- she was the key, the child of the black rose.

As she solved the locks and opened them, the Apocalypse tardigrades grew excited for the reunion of the body and its blossom. Within the Mechanism, the plant survived and grew as it waited for the return of its other half. When the Overlord put her hand in the final and ninth lock, they thought that the body and the rose would be reunited…

… but they were very wrong.

The human-made contraptions within the Mechanism trapped the girl’s arm in place. It slowly grinded its jagged edges against her flesh, against her bone. The tardigrades screamed in terror and their voices reached her, but both had no idea as to what they should do. Slowly, the Mechanism began to move and the girl’s blood seemed to be its fuel. The movement of the Mechanism, in turn, unlocked the other eight pieces of Apocalypse. Based on what the tardigrades of the fallen heavenly body felt at that time, Errol could only hypothesize that the movement of all nine mechanisms made something in the planet’s center move as well. That was what she felt at that time too as she was there with her arm being crushed.

By the time that the initialization process was done and the Mechanism let go of her hand, the Overlord’s left arm was broken in many places. Her bones jutted out of her skin and eventually, pieces of it fell out. She gathered her broken bones which Errol used later on as her weapon, the bone knife. But even with a limp arm and much blood loss, the girl was able to hike out of the cavern. The tardigrades watched her as she left, and they swore that they would make a creature which would be better than her… one which was not as weak, one which was not as frail, one which could attain perfection and, in that perfect state, be reunited with the blossom’s original body within the Mechanism.

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