Part 8 - Beseeching EurydiceMature

His second step found the ground on planet Chiron, eight light years away. Emerging from the realm of faster-than-light travel, he casually strode into the nearby rain forest, halting only to gaze at the night sky.

He should have been vaporized, if not been cindered to a crisp, by the transition across the galaxy, but to him the journey was but a mere step. "Magic!" Someone had screamed. "Careful! He's using magic!"

Magic? Such nonsense was among the few things he considered amusing. There was no such thing as magic: only the change of energy from one form to another, and in the process causing something great to happen.

Humans had been doing "magic" for thousands of years, through the means of technology. Given enough energy, humans could briefly create small suns with their nuclear weapons.

These briefly existing suns were created by splitting the atoms in a few kilograms of enriched material. The Gate of Eden stored and drew energy from a vast reservoir in subspace.

How the Gate of Eden moved him across the galaxy he did not understand, but it was not something as exotic as magic. Anything that occurs can be explained, anything at all--you just have to know enough. That was his creed.

He embarked on a three day journey through the jungle. He stopped on a high cliff, where a sudden gorge sliced deep into the heart of the Taenarum rain forest. There was no canopy above the gorge. The moons were cold disks of ice in a dark blue sky, forlorn without stars. At the end of this gorge, a lone mighty oak sprouted from the sheer stone wound.

He considered "jumping" to the oak just as he "jumped" across the galaxy, but the Gate of Eden and its technologies were so alien to him that he had to be within spitting distance of the thing and actually read the runes to simply wield the instrument.

A faster-than-light leap to a particular region of a planet required basic coordinates be read to the Gate of Eden. A leap mere kilometers across, however, required precise mathematics well beyond human intellect.

He sighed, rolled up the sleeves of his tunic and did the next best thing: he grabbed the crystal prisms and began to scale down the gorge. This took the better part of the night. He arrived at the oak by daybreak.

The tree towered high, scraped the morning sky. Its base was a great mass of roots, as thick as two grown men standing side by side. These roots burrowed deep into the walls of the gorge and the rocky floor.

The woman he came for, Eurydice, walked out from the crevice between the great roots, feet bare, dressed in a tunic like his own. Unlike the worn emerald of his eyes, hers were organic-green, bright with the force of life.

"And so," he said, "you exiled yourself to death in silence?"

"Resignation is my virtue. Here I am at peace, with the forest and the mountains in their silent vigil of time. I would greet a friend, but I fear you bring bad news."

"Your peace will not last," he hard lined. "The plague has consumed an entire galaxy and now it feasts on ours. Paradise and the outer colonies have fallen, and we are struggling on all fronts."

"Maybe the plague must win," she said. "For too long your kind crossed the line."

"That is already decided, but for us Old Guards, our time is near. All that is left for us is to die in the silence of our failure, or to once more lay down our lives and clear a path for those who walk in our footsteps. I ask you, is that not the purpose of life?"

"There will be no glory in our sacrifice. No one will remember us."

"Perhaps, but glory wont matter to you when you're dead."

Eurydice smiled. "Life as usual..."

The End

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