Legacy Chapter 3
My wings lifted me up toward the brilliant blue sky. The free air tasted the fresh tang of the sea. I shot upwards, leaving the tip of the Spire far behind, the sun bathing me in light and warmth.
I slid through a small cloud. I lay back, my eyes closed, the gentle mist cradling me, while the sunlight flickered against my eyelids.
An icy hand touched my arm. I jumped and spun upright. Peri’s concerned face hovered in front of me. “Is something wrong, sir?”
A sharp pang pierced my chest. Mom needed me. I couldn’t just fly away from everything—she was lost in a nightmare, and I had to get her out.
I sank below the cloud until I reached a more reasonable height. The edges of the buildings became more defined, and reality spread over me like a shadow, despite the sunlight gleaming on every window.
Peri flew beside me. Like my wings, the orikal that coated his metal skeleton absorbed the sunlight, making sure he had enough power to keep his antigravs working.
Since Ice Portal was in Desolation, one thousand miles away, it wasn’t exactly practical to fly there with my wings. I could only fly about forty miles an hour, while a car could fly almost ten times that. So I swooped down to the top of one of the wings of the Great Museum and stood on the small platform on the top while I ordered a car. A moment later one pulled up alongside and I flew off and slid into the other side. Peri jumped in beside me, and the car sped off, taking the fast lane over the city, avoiding the densest traffic.
I linked Peri to my holocom and bolstered the connection so he’d be able to communicate with me in the Portal. Then I created some holospheres for the data that we’d collect. I was getting hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant, and I ordered a wrap at the window. The blond M girl said cheerfully, “Happy Festival!”
“Happy Festival,” I repeated in surprise. How had I forgotten it was Festival? Usually, it was one of my favorite times of year. But now…I couldn’t bear the thought of going without Mom. And I couldn’t very well go with Vy, even if I wanted to….She hadn’t exactly been around lately.
I ate the wrap but I hardly tasted it. I sat back against the seat and flipped through hologames, tempted to just immerse in them and forget the real world.
No. I couldn’t do that until I found a cure. I couldn’t abandon Mom like the others had.
I created a blocking program to drown out any external alarms, and put finishing touches on the camouflage program which would, hopefully, keep me invisible from eyes and sensors. The last time I’d tried holoflage it had failed miserably.
When I was sure I couldn’t be any more prepared than I already was, I reclined my seat and closed my eyes against the light.
Next thing I knew, something cold was tapping my arm. I jolted upright. Peri was touching me with one metallic finger.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“Sorry. I just wanted to let you know we’re at Desolation.”
My heart flipped over, like it did whenever I went to Desolation. This was the last place anyone wanted to be, especially during Festival.
Below the car, barren wasteland sped past in a blur of black and gray.
“Stop,” I ordered the car. We were almost at the coordinates. I didn’t want to alert anyone to our presence, and I didn’t want to go to all the trouble to camouflage the car. The less of a trail we left, the better.
I activated the invisibility program on the holocom, and it spread over me. Then I jumped out along with Peri, and ordered the car back to the city proper.
As I flew, the north wind blew against my face, bringing with it the dead smell of ash. Below, great rifts slashed the earth, deep wounds that had never been healed. We could, of course, have built over it—most of the world’s buildings, except for the Old City, had been destroyed at one time or another—but Infinity, my great-grandfather, had kept it as a reminder of the destruction of the Endless War, and his heirs had continued the tradition. Every year, large gatherings came to Desolation during the Day of Remembrance, and my father stood on barren ground and recited the names of our ancestors who had been killed by our enemies, the Vales.
The com beeped, alerting me to the proximity of the Portal. I sank toward the gray barren earth. Ahead, a small army of Ms stood motionless, encircling a patch of ground which on first glance looked just as barren as the rest of it. But as I flew closer, an iridescent shimmer flickered in the air, warping the appearance of the ground beneath it. One of the first orikal bombs had blown open the skin between worlds millennia ago, and we had fought over it for many more lifetimes.
My boots settled on the ground beside a mound of dirt and rubble, and little clouds of ash wafted into the air. Peri landed beside me.
“What would you like me to do?”
“Fly into the Portal. Don’t go all the way through. Gather as much data as you can in grayspace.”
“How long should I stay in?”
I was tempted to tell him to stay until he could no longer transmit data—which meant until he could no longer stay intact. But even though he was an M and expendable, I wasn’t quite ready to do that to him. “Stay until you feel your systems being affected. Get out before you can’t move anymore.”
“I’ll give you further instructions when you get in. Otherwise, don’t contact me unless it’s an emergency. We don’t want the army picking up any sound waves. And keep your camouflage on.”
I sat down on the flat edge of a rock—which, on second glance, looked like part of a building.
Peri stood looking at me, his brown eyes unblinking.
“Well, get going!”
“Are you sure you’ll be okay, sir?”
“I’m a March— nothing can happen to me on Mag City that Dad doesn’t allow.”
He nodded, then leaped into the air, his holographic skin turning invisible as he did so. In a shimmering flash, he completely disappeared.
I settled the round black com disk on my lap and tapped it. A miniature firework splashed into the air, and then spelled out the words FESTIVAL! in brilliant purple and gold and red. I waved it away and opened Peri’s live feed, which showed what he saw in real time. Right now it was just dead earth, gray ash. Then, the Ms appeared beneath him, their regimental lines standing completely still, their eyes all fixed on the Portal, a light on their hands pulsing yellow “standby.” The sun gleamed off of the gold accents on their black and red uniforms. Most of them had at least one arm that was a gun. Some of them were not in human form at all, but large tanks with superhuman intelligence buried beneath the massive metal structures.
The Portal flickered into view, and Peri sent the code that would allow him entrance. Ice Portal was the most heavily guarded area on all the worlds, except for the front line on Ice itself, where we faced off in a cold war against the Conglomerate. The code changed every minute. If it was the wrong code by a millisecond, an alarm would go off. Didn’t matter how many alarms I’d deactivated—I’d never be able to touch the one on the Portal.
Peri’s vision shimmered, little iridescent worms writhing over it, and the desolate landscape warped out of existence.
© 2018 Evelyn