In the Face of the Eternal
Discovering one's destiny in the face of Death
September 12, 2038
I can only pray this doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. My name is Alex Pierce. I’m 16...no, wait 17. 17 years old, and if you’re listening to this, it means they caught me.
The Allegiance has been after me for months. On January 12th, I was attacked in my shelter by a gang of Vannul. They were my family, whom I had believed to be dead until that day. The Allegiance were notified, and my family retreated before their arrival, leaving me to be taken in on charges of Collusion. I escaped the Regall Facility in Territory Alpha, Zone 6, 4 months ago. I have left this message because they’re closing in on my location, and I need to get this out there.
Enclosed with this message is a black case containing a locket. Do not open that case! That locket is a powerful void-object, and the case has dampeners that prevent its energy from being picked up by Vannul and the Allegiance sensors.
“Learned that the hard way, didn’t we?” Trip had joked from behind the jeep’s steering wheel as they rushed to put distance between themselves and the shelter before any hostiles arrived. The comment earned him a punch to the arm from Ryder, who had opened the case to reveal the heart-shaped piece of jewelry in curiosity moments before the message warned not to, then promptly slammed it shut with barked orders from Sylla to move. They let the remainder of the message play as they left in a haste.
You must make sure that locket does not fall into the wrong hands, whether that be those of the Allegiance or the Vannul. You need to travel to the Regall Facility and return my locket to me. This locket is special. On the back of the case is a white gemstone.
It wasn’t hard to miss. When Ryder had flipped the case around, his eyes were entranced by the glowing stone embedded in the back. Small, square, but shining.
That gemstone is linked to my life-force. If it stops glowing, you will know it is too late. If you’re too late, the world has lost all remaining hope of escaping the reign of the Void.
That locket and I are the only things that can stop this. Please, before the shadows consume us all for good.
“You’ve listened to that voice message a hundred and one times, Arden. It’s not going to be any different the hundred and second!” Sylla teased them, gently prying the earbud from their right ear. They had wanted to focus on the words without the distraction of their teammates, and the headphones had allowed it.
“You have to admit, there’s a lot of questions to be asked. How did a human supposedly find such a gemstone in this plane and then manage to link it with their own lifeforce? The Allegiance aren’t ones to take regular humans, they focus on bringing in living Vannul. So, what makes this human that special? This entire operation seems suspicious. What if it's a trap?”
“You’re being paranoid, Ar’!” laughed Ryder, despite knowing how much Arden hated the shortening of their name. “The Allegiance barely knows we exist, and we’ve never given them a reason to hone in on us. Like you said, they focus on Void-Beings. Why would they be setting a trap for us with some random human?”
They hated to admit it, but Arden knew his points rang true. “Ok, so if not a trap by the Allegiance, then maybe this ‘person’ isn’t even human? They were brought in for Colluding with Vannul. How do we know they aren't Vannul? Maybe they’re hoping they can trick an innocent gang of humans into breaking them out of prison, just to kill us and go sauntering back to the Void that spawned it!”
“Regardless, we’re already nearing the border of Zone 6. We’ve spent a lot of time and supplies on this trip, and I think we should see this through. Things like this have happened before, with people we know...returning from the Void. You hear cases about it all the time. The Allegiance very well could have suspected this person was doing something they shouldn’t have been, even if they are wrong in their suspicions. Escaping Regall didn’t help matters.”
Trip’s final sentence was said with a sigh and disheartening drop in tone. Before the four had come together as one team, his sister had returned from the Void herself, ashamed at the creature she had become. A rare sight, a Vannul being able to see through the darkness corrupting their being and feeling shame. She had come to see her brother one final time before turning herself into the Allegiance, knowing that their scientists were of few worldwide who had perfected the ability to exterminate Corrupted Beings.
She had known that visit would be her last. Trip hadn't, until it was too late.
The Allegiance had arrived, taking her away as Trip fought the hands pulling him back. The two were taken to Regall, Trip just so that they could assure he showed no signs of Corruption.
They had let him stay through his sister’s execution. She played it off perfectly, as if she was nothing more than what they saw-a monster, Corruption racing through her veins, a hopeless soul who cared for nothing but bloodshed and darkness.
To this day, her brother and his team were the only living souls who knew any different, knew the truth. Because they were the only ones who believed him when he argued that she wasn’t like they thought. The scientists hadn’t.
For a moment, Arden put aside their doubts and allowed themselves to feel remorse for their teammate’s struggle. As soon as the message had mentioned Regall, Arden could see the tensing up in Trip’s shoulders, could feel the thick air of regret and loss surrounding him.
Arden knew they weren’t winning the fight. No matter what would come, they would get around it, but this was something their team needed to do. Something Trip needed to see through. And so they reached their hand around the driver’s seat from the back, clapped it against Trip’s shoulder, and gave him a silent nod through the rear-view mirror. I’m with you.
They gazed out the window during the ride across the border. The broken buildings, husks telling stories of lives long forgotten. The darkened clouds blanketing dull skies.
Nothing about their shattered world would ever compare to the corpses.
Human, Corrupted, sometimes it could be hard to tell. Once a Vannul had been dead for enough time, the energy tainting their forms would dissipate back into the Earth, reacquaint with the Void. Without the blackened veins and eyes, they looked almost human. The only distinguishing feature was the marks, signs of the Void’s magic. The marks didn’t leave after death, a permanent stamp of what the person had become. Both Human and Vannul corpses littered the ground, primarily in the more urban regions. The Terran Safety Allegiance didn’t bother with corpses. Their focus was living vessels they could study and, if need be, eventually exterminate.
Nobody had discovered how to reverse the Void’s effects. There was no saving those it consumed.
During the ride, Sylla had tracked down a blueprint of the inside of Regall. They had two floors of sub-levels, A and B, each housing containment cells. Trip confirmed, stating that his sister had been held in B, himself in A.
"B is for level 5-10 threats, A for minor threats or humans awaiting Corruption tests, just in case they present signs of Void-Energy while waiting. I don’t know how much of a threat they consider this Alex, but our best chance at finding them is to start with A.”
They reached the facility before sunset, waiting a few miles on the outskirts in a wooded section to avoid the guards littered around the building. “There’s a shift rotation in 5 minutes, that door will be unguarded for 2 while the others show up. I’ve managed to get in and shut the cameras down, so you’re clear from the skies. There’s disguises in your packs-lab coats, IDs that I’ve synched with the system to get you through the doors, the works. You’ve got your comms in, connected to me so we can communicate from here.
"Get in, find Alex, get out. There’s an old service tunnel beneath the building, the entrance at the West end of Sub-Level B. No one goes near it, so as long as you can get Alex and get down there, you’ll be solid.” Sylla handed them their comms, and they got settled into position to move the second the guards changed.
Getting in was as easy as they could have hoped for. The three managed to reach the elevator to the sub-levels, Trip scanning his ID against the pad to open the doors. As the car carried them down, Arden felt his hand brush against the case in his coat pocket.
The doors slid open to reveal Sub-level A. For their teammates sake, Arden and Ryder pretended not to notice the anger and guilt radiating off of Trip’s still form. “Let’s move,” was all Ryder said, as Trip miraculously managed to put one foot ahead of the other and follow them down the corridor, whispering Alex’s name in hopes of finding their target.
“You’re here for Alex? He...He said he left a message. He didn’t think anyone would get here in time,” a voice piped up from behind Arden. The team turned to face a girl in one of the cells, long hair curtaining her face as she looked up from where she knelt on the floor. She raised a hand to the cell across the hall, Ryder being the first to notice the drops of blood by the bars. “They took him away, just a few minutes ago.”
“Where do they take people for execution?” asked Arden.
“Third floor,” the girl and Trip answered in unison. They thanked the girl and turned, stopped in their tracks by the sound of an alarm.
“I don’t know how, but they made you. They haven’t seen me yet, I’m covered here. You guys need to get Alex and move, now!” Sylla ordered through their comms.
Arden felt something surge in his hand, remembering that they had held the locket case the entire time. He reluctantly pulled it out of his pocket. Security guards surged into the hall from the elevator. Ryder and Trip held up their weapons, sizing up the number of opponents.
They all knew it, but nobody said it. Too many.
Ryder noticed the shimmer in the corner of his eye, turned as the gemstone flashed before fading out. “No...No!” Arden cried.
At the moment, they couldn’t say what compelled them, but Arden ripped open the case, and took the locket in their hand. 'If we’re going to die here, might as well know what we died protecting.'
Humanity’s last hope.
Suddenly, the gemstone on the back emitted a different light-pitch black. The locket, clutched in Arden’s hand, began to glow similarly as a surge of energy burned up and down their arm.
They barely registered someone's shout to get down, before everything went black, the air around them buzzing with power. As the waves of unconsciousness swept them under, a voice broke through the dark.
Humanity’s last hope. The Eternal.
When they opened their eyes, it was to Sylla's voice crackling in and out of the comms in their ear. "...you all...right...Hello??"
Arden stood up, remembering the blast. The entire hallway was demolished, burying the guards beneath piles of rubble. The locket still clutched in their hand, he noticed Trip and Ryder unconscious at their side...
...and a shimmering, black energy field surrounding the three of them.
"Arden! Are you all ok?"
They unraveled the fist holding the locket and examined it, seemingly unchanged save for the familiar thrum of energy.
"Yeah...Yeah, we're ok."
About the author
Hello! I'm Lizzy, a poet and fiction/fantasy writer. I've been creating fiction since I was a child, making up and acting out stories. I started writing my stories when I was 9, and poetry when I was 11!