Part 7 - ParadiseMature

The white-blue suns of the Tau Ceti system shone harshly. In a pale sky, thin tendrils of clouds hung like tattered rags above the enshrined ashes of the planet Paradise, humanity's farthest outpost.

A man of fifty-nine winters plotted an uncertain course through the ashen world. He shivered in his white tunic while the chills racked his chest at every step. He was in ailing health, not long for life. His pale green eyes, like worn emeralds, quested through the ashes with despair.

No buildings stood. Only broken stone and rusted steel skeletons remained. Among the ashes he saw the remains of the brave men and women who first encountered the plague here, and laid down their lives to impede its growth.

Here lay the last of the brave.

For a fortnight he scoured the ashes without surrender. Upon the fifteenth day, when the white-blue suns emerged from a grey horizon, he spotted a peculiar shine in the distance.

The crystal's shape was that of a clear prism tapered to a wicked point, liquid gold energy churning within. In the wane sunrise, it appeared to hold all the light in the world. He picked the crystal from the ashes, held it in the sunlight. As he moved it, complex runes came into view.

At a certain angle he saw the arcane scripture, an enigmatic dance of serpentine trails and curved lines worked in fine silver upon the crystal. He couldn't help but smile at the part of the artifact he sought to destroy for a life time. Now, he had to preserve the artifact to save what little light remained.

For five more days he scoured the ashes, and for five days he found similar crystals. On the sixth day he chanced upon the final piece, a hexagonal crystal the size of his head. While the six prisms glowed with a fiery liquid gold energy, the hexagonal center piece burned with light.

He cleared a patch of ground and placed each prism on each side of the hexagonal center piece. Set together, the center piece appeared like a sun and the prisms its brilliant rays. A memory from a lifetime ago, in boyhood, whispered: "Rise forth, and cast shut The Gate of Eden…"

And for a lifetime he searched for The Gate of Eden. For a lifetime he sinned against humankind to destroy the object and shut the plague from this galaxy. Now, the ashes of this world spoke the magnitude of his failure.

To embark on a journey of penance would require another lifetime, but there remained things he could do to redeem his wasted years. He still had the knowledge he gained in his pursuit of The Gate of Eden.

He knew that for the plague to travel between galaxies, it required an immense power source. The power, he knew, that was held within The Gate of Eden. The artifact before him now hovered a meter off the ground.

Artfully crafted, the object was clearly not forged by human hands. It was a deadly weapon that absorbed all forms of energy, stored it in subspace and bridged that power into each of its crystals.

In proper hands and knowledge, he hoped, the instrument could be used to defeat the plague. His intent was pure, his destination clear, but to face the plague alone would be tantamount to hubris.

Even with the Gate of Eden, he was still just one old man. To face the plague, he had to visit an old friend. He read the arcane runes on the sixth prism. At once, the artifact's crystals came to stand at his back, making him appear as though he were a sun god.

He stepped forward and a blast of the most glorious light enveloped him. In moments, his vision darkened and his ears deafened as the artifact shunted him into the realm of faster-than-light travel.

The End

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