Chapter 12- Is this Destiny?
Jack opened his eyes and realized that he was lying on a floor. Or was it a floor? It looked like it was only a white space. As he gazed around, he realized that the rest of his surroundings were the same, white as far as the eye could see. It almost glowed, the light hurting his eyes until he got used to it. He couldn't discern where the floor he was on was, or if there was a floor at all.
"Am I...dead?" he asked no one. As he said this, a black dot appeared on the 'horizon.' It slowly got bigger, casting a long shadow as if the light source was directly behind it. As it came closer, he saw that it was a man, but that wasn't the weirdest part. What was odd was that he was wearing a SSAF ceremonial uniform. He had jet black hair, reaching down past his waist.
"Oh no, friend," the man spoke. "You've just been temporarily removed from the normal flow of time."
"What?" Jack asked, squinting to see into the light behind the man. "What does that mean. And why are you wearing a SSAF uniform?"
"I have chosen this form because it is one that you would recognize. My name is Topik, and this is the Beginning of Time."
"Beginning of Time?" Jack asked.
"Yes," Topik said. "The space-time coordinates of the most resistance. Unlike the End of Time which is wear time travelers with no direction land due to the lack of temporal resistance, this is the exact opposite."
"You mean, you can't end up here?" Jack asked.
"You're pretty smart," Topik said. "Yes, the only way you can end up here is if you are 'invited,' so to say. Someone from here must open a gate for you, as you have just witnessed."
"There's more of you?" Jack asked.
"Eleven more to be exact," Topik said. "We are the monitors of the Beginning of Time. We are responsible for monitoring the every time stream in existence."
"Say what?" Jack said.
"I'm sure you have a lot of questions," he said, dipping his head. "But they can wait. We have much more important things to attend to right now." He walked closer to a puzzled Jack. "Tell me, Mr. McKlane. Do you believe in destiny?"
"You mean like, fate?" Jack asked. "That our lives are set before we're even born?" Topik nodded. Jack thought about it for a minute. "You know, I never really thought about it before. I don't want to think about not being in control of my own life."
"I see," Topik said, with his hand to his chin. He waited a little bit before speaking again. "Jack, have you ever felt like you're being pulled somewhere? Have you ever felt that you had to do something so bad that you couldn't resist it? Do ever feel like you're just caught up in the flow of things and you can't fight it?"
"Well, yeah," Jack said. "But doesn't everyone feel that way sometimes?"
"Ah yes," Topik said. He paused and walked around Jack a few times. "I believe that you have just found your answer."
"What does that mean?" Jack asked.
"That, Mr. McKlane, you must figure out for yourself." Topik turned around and started walking in the other direction. "Come with me," he said. Jack, dumbfounded by the whole thing, followed like a dog on a leash.
"Aren't you gonna let me ask any questions?" Jack asked. Topik didn't answer or even turn around. Jack decided that this was a 'yes.' "Okay…" Jack said, trailing off. "Then how about telling me why I'm here?" Topik turned around.
"You are here to prepare for your destiny," he said with no change in facial expression. "If you accept your destiny is one thing, but you can't escape it." Topik turned around and continued walking into the white nothingness beyond them. Jack stopped in his tracks.
"What the hell does that mean!?" he screamed. "At least give me an non-cryptic answer!" Topik stopped again but did not turn around.
"Your training," he said simply. "That is why you're here."
"Training for what?" Jack asked.
"You do wish to fight the being that is destroying your world, correct?"
"Yes," Jack said. "And you're going to help me do that?"
"Do not misunderstand. It may not be you who kills this Lavoid, but you still have much to learn."
"All I want to know is how to kill it so I can make things right," Jack said firmly, clenching his fists. Topik turned.
"First," he said. "There is much you must learn." Topik then waved his hand and the vast whiteness that they stood in became the middle of outer space. There were stars all around them but while they stood as if on a floor, there was still no floor to be seen. Jack spun around to examine his surroundings and gasped, surprised that he inhaled air.
"What did you do!?" he yelled, frantically searching for nothing in particular. Topik just smiled.
"There," he said, pointing to a faint red glow off in the distance that was moving and becoming bigger. Soon, it became clear that it was a spiky ball. Eventually, it passed them and flew off into the distance. "Do you see that?" Jack nodded. "That is a Lavoid, your enemy."
"A Lavoid?" Jack asked.
"This Lavos that is on your planet is one a species known as Lavoids. The species was discovered and named by a very wise person on another world billions of years ago."
"You mean there's more of those things?!" Jack yelled with heavy gesticulation. He calmed down and decided to ask some real questions. "So what exactly is it?" he asked.
"It is a parasite. It feeds off of the energies of a planet, growing ever stronger as it sleeps close to the planets core."
"The area with the most heat energy…" Jack said.
"Correct. It transforms this heat as well as all of the other energies of the planet into forms that it can use. The gestation period for a Lavoid is different for every one, but they all share two common goals."
"Assimilation of DNA and replication of that DNA through offspring," Topik said. "It gathers the DNA of all the life forms on a planet, creating an optimum mixture, aiming for the creation of the ultimate being. It then passes this DNA on to it's children, whom in turn aim to create a more perfect being, continuing the vicious cycle"
"It farms life-forms?" Jack asked. Topik nodded.
"Before it gives birth, it has to prepare an adequate environment for it children. After it has no more use for the living things on the planet, it will come to the planets surface and bring forth the chaos that you have seen." Topik nodded his head and spoke with sympathy for what Jack had been though. "The nuclear winter that follows provides the perfect surroundings for it's offspring…" Topik trailed off.
"That's twisted," Jack said with a disgusted look. "So it uses us and then fries us?" Topik nodded. "Do they ever die?"
"No," he said bitterly. "Lavoids are immortal. They start off very weak, but with every planet that they destroy, they become stronger and stronger, effectively filling the world up with their kind."
"Doesn't that contradict laws of species preservation?" Jack asked. "I mean, what happens when there are no more planets left?" Topik lowered his head again.
"That is not something that they will have to worry about for a while. The gestation period of Lavoid is very long and only gives birth to about 3 to 5 offspring. It seems that they don't worry about their preservation as a species, only their preservation as an individual." Jack slumped down to the 'floor.'
"Why are you telling me this?" Jack asked.
"All will reveal itself in due time Jack, but what you must know is that you are one of 'hope.'" Jack's head snapped to attention at the mention of the phrase Sean used. He gritted his teeth.
"What does that mean," he said bitterly. "Where did you here that?"
"You still have much to learn," Topik said, starting to turn. Jack got up and stepped up to Topik menacingly.
"Look buddy, I don't have time to 'learn' anything. I have to get back to my time and kill that son of a bitch!"
"Lavoids are asexual," Topik corrected him.
"Huh?" Jack asked before shrugging it off. "Anyway, I don't have time for it. I need to find someone that can help me kill this thing."
"You realize that it might not be your battle to win," Topik said. Jack nodded. Topik thought about it before waving his hand, causing a vortex, similar to the one that brought Jack here, to form in front of them. "There is a man in the middle ages called Magus," Topik said. "You should probably try to talk to him."
"He knows how I can get to Lavos?" Jack asked.
"Well, sort of," Topik said.
"Great," Jack said before turning to the portal. "Thanks a lot," he said, running to the vortex and leaping into it. As he disappeared and the gate closed, Topik shook his head.
"Still so impatient," Topik said to himself. "I'll have to bring you before the council next time. I'm sure they will be mad at me for this. Yes, it won't be long before you're back here again. You're not ready for the truth yet, but when you are, I think you'll figure it out for yourself." He turned from the previous location of the gate, waving his arm and causing the image of space to revert to the endless white that it was in before. "All in due time, Mr. McKlane…"
End of Time
Jack walked out of the materializing portal at the End of Time. He was surprised and happy that he didn't black out this time. As soon as he came out however, Tristan and Sarah looked at him strangely.
"What the hell was that?" Tristan asked. "You went in and came right out again?"
"What?" Jack asked. "What are you talking about. I was in there for at least an hour."
"Jack," Sarah started, "the gate didn't even close. You were in there for all of three seconds."
"No way…" Jack said, sure of his side of the story. Gaspar cut in.
"He sent you back to the point in time in that you entered the gate. Like I said, it was like you were never even gone."
"Who's he?" Sarah asked.
"Yeah," Jack said. "How do you know about him?" Gaspar smiled briefly.
"I know a lot more than one might guess," he said. "So who was it? Was it Topik? I know he's been watching you very closely." Jack nodded, not really sure of what else to say. Tristan jumped in.
"Okay. Will somebody please explain to me what the hell is going on here?!"
"It's like this…" Jack started to say. He explained everything that Topik had said about the Lavoids, leaving out the part about him being one of 'hope.' He decided that he would have to figure that out before sharing it. When he finished his story, Tristan and Sarah looked somewhat disturbed by the whole thing.
"That's what we're fighting?" Sarah said. Jack nodded. "It seems so…evil. It mean, the way it survives. It's like a virus. It controls planets simply for reproduction, using up every resource. Then, when it has no more use for the planet…"
"Bang…" Tristan said, finishing her sentence.
"Right now," Jack said. "We don't need to worry about the rest of this god damn species, only this one. We only worry about Lavos. We're not heroes of the universe, we're just trying to save our world." Tristan nodded weakly. Sarah didn't move.
"But what do we do now?" Tristan asked.
"Well, Topik told me that I should try and talk to a certain Magus in the middle ages," Jack said.
"You don't mean…" Tristan said, staggering back.
"Yeah," Jack said. "I guess that means you paid attention in history class." Tristan nodded.
"I didn't get chance to learn Magic," Tristan said. "I'll stay here. Pick up Rayith and Aragorn and meet me back here." Jack gave Tristan a short nod.
"But why Magus?" Sarah asked. "We already had one run in with his mystics and I'd like to avoid another one.
"Not to worry," Jack said. "This time, we'll be ready." He walked over to the 1999 gate bucket. "We depart for the middle ages after getting Aragorn and Rayith back from their Force Tech training. We'll set this dial to about three days ahead of where it should be so we can pick them up after they finish their basic training."
"Won't that create a paradox if we just go around picking up someone's existence in a time that we shouldn't be able to go to?" Sarah asked. The temporal engineer decided explain this.
"No," he said simply. "This won't have any bad effect according to my calculations. According to Cain's law of Timestream Permanence, time travelers are not effected by changes in timelines, hereby causing no adverse displacement to occur. It will be the same Aragorn and Rayith that we know, and because we are coming from an area outside of the normal flow of time, it would be just as if we stayed here for three days, rather than traveling three days ahead of time. We should actually be able to set the dial back to the normal date of 1999 as long as we don't return there before it reaches the point where we removed Aragorn and Rayith from that era." Jack scratched his head while Sarah's jaw just dropped open. Tristan smiled.
"Umm, Okay…" Jack said. "I think I get it so I'm not going to ask for it simpler terms, I'm just gonna assume that he's right." He slid the dial forward three days. "Anyway, here we go." He hit the button and the gate appeared. Gaspar got a statement in before they entered it.
"Jack," he said. "Why don't you ask the people in your time to examine that TAG that you found in the middle ages?" Jack spun around, his hair blowing in the wind of the vortex, and nodded. Then, he entered the gate, followed by Sarah and Tristan. Soon after, the gate closed behind them.
"Hmm," Gaspar mumbled to himself. "I wonder how much Topik actually told him…"
1999ad, SSAF HQ
Jack didn't exactly know why the gate that he and the others took from the end of time landed them in the SOE lab of SSAF HQ. The first time, it landed them miles from Trann city. The only explanation that he could come up with was he might be instinctively learning to control the gates. He hadn't even used his magic much, but somehow, he felt it growing stronger. It was true that Spekkio said that he had merely waken it from it's dormant state, but could it be possible that the power was continuing to grow? He made a mental note to make more use of his new gift and to work on some new spells. Meanwhile, however, he and Sarah were standing back at the main SOE lab.
Because of the manipulation they used with the bucket at the end of time, everyone was sure that they had been gone for three days longer than they actually had. Jack was amazed that he even was able to keep a mental clock as far as what time it really was, but he wasn't too sure about even that anymore. The lead scientist was happy to see them back and reported nothing but good news as to the progress of Rayith and Aragorn with the Force Tech.
"I don't know," the scientist said. "Maybe it has to do with their magic, but I've never seen anyone gain such a control over Force Technique that quickly."
"That's good," Sarah said. "We're gonna need all the help we can get." Jack stepped forward.
"Excuse me?" he asked the scientist, reaching into his pocket and drawing the Red TAG. "Could you tell me everything you can about this?" He held it out to the scientist who took it out of his hand and examined it.
"It's a TAG," the scientist said. Jack thought along the lines of 'well, duh' but kept the comment to himself. "But, it appears very old. Where did you find it?"
"That's the weird part," Jack said. "We found it in 600ad." The scientists cocked his head back in disbelief.
"Say again?" he asked.
"I know it sounds odd," Sarah said, "but it's true. It was just lying in the weapon store where we bought these swords," she motioned to her and Jack's medieval toys.
"Hmm," was all the scientist could say.
"Well?" Jack asked. "What do you make of it?" The scientist didn't answer right away. Jack's expression grew angry before he said anything.
"Does it still work?" Jack shook his head. The scientist spoke again. "If you allow me to examine it, I might be able to figure it out. Will you let me?" Jack thought about it before nodding slowly. "Good," the scientist said. "Now, follow me and we can pick up your newly Force Tech trained friends." The scientist turned and walked towards the exit of the lab. Jack and Sarah followed closely, examining various devices on the tables as they made their ways to the door. Jack found himself pocketing a few of the items for latter testing. The scientist led the two of them to one of the many floors dedicated to the study and furthering of Force Tech. He started talked as they walked, recapping the progress of Aragorn and Rayith.
"It's quite interesting really," he said. "Aragorn's progress has been well above normal but it's nothing compared to Rayith's. She's like a machine. I think she stopped to sleep once in the past three days. We've had shifts of people helping her. She just doesn't want to stop."
"Is she becoming stronger?" Sarah asked.
"I'll put it this way," the scientist said. "She's gained the amount control over Force Tech energies in three days that it's taken most people over ten years to achieve."
"So how strong is she?" Sarah asked again.
"We'll know in a minute," he said. "The started to test Aragorn for Tech Degree when I left. Rayith should be hooking up to the machine about now." Testing for Tech Degree meant that they would measure the energies Rayith collected, giving her a number in the form of a degree. Some of the most powerful Force Tech users could absorb so much energy from the surrounding environment that the temperature actually dropped a few degrees Celsius.
"This ought to be interesting…" Jack mumbled. Soon after, the three of them walked into an room with a window the length of the wall on the opposite end. There were all sorts of computers in the room. The window looked into a larger room, completely white. Jack immediately recognized the figure in the white room as Rayith, who was wearing a completely new set of clothes. She wore a skin tight suit, crimson red for the most part, with streaks of black in a few places. She also had been given a new pair of boots and a set of shoulder armor. She looked more like a sorceress then a warrior. As Jack and Sarah made their way to the window, Aragorn walked up from behind them.
"Hey," he said. The two others turned to see Aragorn standing with an unusually large smile on his face.
"Hey yourself," Jack said. "So, how was it?"
"It was great!" he said, very excited. "The ability to manipulate energy like you can is such a rush of power."
"Don't let it go to you're head," Sarah said. She paused before posing the all important question when it came to Force Tech. "So what are you?"
"Huh?" he asked back.
"Your Tech Degree."
"Oh," he thought about it for a second. "I'm an eight," he said proudly. "I can double my combat potential."
"Cool," Jack said, "That's the same as me. I guess we're gonna find out what Rayith is in a minute." There was a brief pause as the scientist continued setting up for Rayith's reading test.
"Jack," Aragorn said, "I need to talk to you for a second. It's about…" he was cut off by a deafening roar as Rayith started to gather energy and all the complex machines started to kick in. Everyone's attention turned to the white room where Rayith was glowing a dull red, quickly changing to a bright red and reaching into the orange zone.
"Wow," Sarah said. "She's already about at your max Jack…" she said, examining the color of her glow. Jack didn't reply. All sorts of readings starting coming up on the monitors in the room. It read out 7.8, almost Jack's max like Sarah had predicted. But, Rayith didn't stop there. Her orange glow intensified, until it started to shift to yellow. The energies around her were becoming massive.
"Holy crap," Jack said, staring at the monitor which now read 12.3 "She learned that in three days?" he asked himself over the noise of the machines. Rayith's glow intensified further, reaching a bright yellow before starting to subside. She was slowly releasing the energies she had gathered, ending the test. Jack, Sarah and Aragorn rushed into the room, followed by a few scientists. The final reading on the screen stood at 14.2.
"That was amazing!" Sarah shouted. "I can't believe you learned to take in so much energy in three days.
"My head hurts," Rayith said weakly.
"That's okay," said one of the scientists. "That means you stopped at the right time. Congratulations," he said with a smile. "You rank in at 14.2. That means you can multiply your fighting capabilities by more than 3 and half times!"
"Wow," said Rayith. "That's awesome. I can't wait to try it out."
"You might just get your chance," Jack said, stepping forward. "We have to go pay our friend Magus a visit." Rayith smiled a smile that was almost sinister, but she looked too tired to have any evil thoughts. She hadn't even slept in two days.
"Excellent…" she said, pondering over he new power. "When do we leave?"
"As soon as possible," Sarah said. Rayith didn't respond, but started walking to the exit of the white room.
She spun around. "Then what are we waiting for?" she said.
"Only one thing," Jack said with a smile on his face. He turned to one of the scientist. "Hook me up. I want a new reading…"
1999ad, SSAF HQ
Jack stood in the center of the white room. The gray boxes on each of the walls were vibrating rapidly, creating the source of the unlimited supply of energy. Jack didn't know how they created the energy, he just knew that he had all the supply he needed. The turned his head to the head technicians in the observation room who gave him a nod, signaling that he could start when he was ready.
"How long ago did he get that reading of 8?" Rayith asked.
"About three months ago," Sarah answered. "I don't know how much stronger he thinks he now though..." Soon after, Jack started to glow a dull red and the glow began to intensify. The room started to fill with energy as the monitors in the observation room began to kick in. 1.2, 1.8, 2.3, 4.8. The numbers climbed as Jack took in more and more power.
"He's going a lot faster than normal," Sarah commented.
"His charge isn't normally this fast?" Aragorn asked.
"No," Sarah said lightly. "It normally takes him about a minute to get this high," she said, looking at the monitor which gave the reading of 6.7. Jack's glow was turning orange and intensifying. He soon came close to his previous mark of 8.
"This should be close to the end," Rayith said, looking at the monitor read out 7.9. Sarah shook her head softly.
"No," she said. "He's stronger now. I don't know why, but it doesn't even look like he's trying." Sarah was right. Jack was just standing there in the middle of his now yellow glow. He didn't even look tense He wasn't squatting down with his limbs tensed up as was normal for a large Force Tech intake. He just stood there in a somewhat powerful pose. The monitor then started to pick up pace in the speed that the numbers were rising. He broke 8 with ease. The dial started to speed up, Jack still not even appearing to be trying. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. The technicians couldn't even pick out the decimal places. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. The numbers flew by. As he reached 25, he began to show signs of tension that he normally would show at 5.
"What on earth..." Sarah commented as the glow around Jack intensified to a bright green. "He's never even been close to this strong." In another minute, the counter shot past 32, busting the Tech Degree that Sean had had.
"Damn," remarked one of the scientists. "This is crazy..." Jack was now showing clear signs of stress and had begun to tense his muscles. When he got to 38, he began to scream. It wasn't a scream of pain though, but more like a battle cry. His green glow shifted to blue, the blue shifting to purple. 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43. The energies in the room were massive, the window on the wall of the observation room beginning to shake. As the glow around Jack became a very light, bright, purple, he started to release the energy. Soon, he returned to his original standing position, looking no worse for the wear. The final counter read 49.
Everyone in the observation room rushed into the white room. When they looked at Jack, his hair was a little more spiked and frazzled than usual, but he didn't look tired or in pain at all.
"That was incredible!" the lead scientist yelled. "That's the second highest recording of Force Tech use in SSAF history!"
"Really? What did I land at?" Jack asked, rubbing his head.
"49," Sarah said, somewhat in awe at the power that she had just witnessed. "You blew away even Sean..."
"Wow," Jack said. "I was that high? I did better than I thought."
"Jack, that was amazing," another scientist said. "You almost went white!"
"Went white?" Rayith asked. Jack answered.
"When you reach a Tech Degree of over 50, the color emitted becomes ultraviolet, but we can only see it as a white aura. Going 'white' has only been done once and the person who made it killed himself in the process."
"It was very messy..." one of the scientists commented. "But either way, that makes you the most powerful Force Tech user alive!" Jack thought about it for a second but didn't follow up on it. Deep down, he didn't know if he wanted this power.
"It's no big deal though, we should just worry about Magus now," he said.
"But, with a power of 49, you can multiply fighting potential over 12 fold!" another scientist said.
"I said it's not important!" Jack yelled, surprised at his own outburst. He calmed down. "Anyway, we have to concentrate on the problem at hand. I'll meet you all back at the SOE lab..." he turned and left the room, leaving a perplexed mass of people behind him.
"I wonder if it had to do with Spekkio 'awakening' his magic?" Sarah commented. Aragorn put his hand to his chin in thought.
"Hmm," he muttered to himself. "I guess Spekkio was telling the truth. He is off the charts..."
"Never underestimate the power of the Force" -Darth Vader
Authors note- Okay, I need to give a little credit notation as to borrowed terms in this chapter. First off, I mentioned an idea used by Cain in his story "Chrono Continuum." If you want a more in depth explanation, go read it! It's a great story and should be read by everyone. Secondly and probably more importantly, I have to thank Nanaki for giving me use of the word 'Lavoid.' I hereby order all of you reading this story to stop and go read everything that Nanaki has written before coming back to my work. Trust me, it will be well worth it. That's it for now,
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