"Do you think they'll talk to us?" I ask, gesturing to the ships outside.   "Maybe. They are at war, though." Fray replies. They let out a chuckle. "Why? Are you hoping they'll give you directions?"   "I-" My words won't come forth, as if my throat seized up before I could speak.   Fray takes one look at my expression, one of pain, and quickly corrects themselves. "I'm sorry. That was unkind."   "It's a fair point." I manage to say. Fray shakes their head. "Irrelevant. No, I don't think they'll respond. They probably won't even understand us."   That makes sense. We are who knows how many years ahead… or behind our time. Our language may have changed, if it managed to survive this long. "Maybe an SOS?"   "A distress signal could work but what if they answer? How do you intend on explaining-" Fray's words stop when they notice movement from above on the panoramic view.   A ship passes over us, and my jaw drops. I've seen that ship before. It's massive and beautiful, a vessel I'd recognize anywhere. My hand covers my mouth as I fight the tears.   Fraeia doesn't. Black tears fall freely when they make the connection. "Viritine?"   "How?" I ask. They don't respond. I check the transponder and there's no doubt about it. That's the Viritine. I reach for the communications panel, set it for short range communication, and pick up the mic. "EVN Viritine, this is Captain Amberlie Hurst of The SVN Solitude, please respond."   We wait. It takes several moments, but it feels so much longer. Eventually, we get a response and it's not her. It's an Eden. "Solitude, may you have me your origin?"   "I'm sorry, say again?" I reply.   "Let me." Fray says, stepping over and holding out their hand. I give them the mic, and they speak, but in their own language. The translator struggles, like always, but this time it seems to be taking longer than usual. I can hear the delay, which has never happened before. "Viritine, this ship is out of its time. I served on the Viritine long ago. My unit number was 163223. Perhaps she can vouch for us."   The response is frantic, and I notice the ship turning around as if to intercept our ship. "Solitude, this is a lie. You couldn't have served on the Viritine. This is her maiden voyage."   Fray's eyes go wide for only a moment, then they turn to me. "Perhaps we went back in time, and not forward?" I shrug and they raise their hand to their chin. "No. We had to have moved forward."   "Maybe Viritine went back?" I ask.   They smile and nod. "If so, then maybe there's a way for us as well."   "What do we do?"   They sigh and look out to the ship as it slows down directly above us. "They havent opened fire. Viritine wouldn't allow it. We'll be boarded, most likely."   "And then?"   "We'll have to see. Come. We should be prepared." They lead me to the kitchen table and speak as we sit. "Keep your hands on the table and let me do the talking. Your language seems to give them trouble."   I nod and minutes later hear the airlock connect with a boarding shuttle. The door slides open and four Eden soldiers step into the ship with their rifles raised. The moment they see Fraeia, the rifles lower.   "Arm." A soldier demands. Fraeia presents their arm and the soldier reveals a cylinder with a needle-like tip. A display flashes green on the body, and the soldier presses the needle against Fray's skin. Just watching makes me squirm.   The display flashes red, then green again. I hear the soldier gasp. "You're not… how?"   Fraeia replies, "I don't understand."   The soldier gestures to the door and we stand to obey. They're taking us to their ship, and I'm not sure I'm ready for it. Fray isn't either. They jitter in their seat the whole way to the hanger.   When the door opens, the cabin of the shuttle is filled with golden light. The inside of the ship looks exactly as it did when I first saw it. That's when I have an idea.   "Wait." I say. The soldiers stop but they look at each other as if unsure of what I said. I turn to Fray and say, "We can prove we've been here, right here and now."   "Ah." Fray smiles. "My companion has a point," they say, again speaking their language. "If I can take you to the cryopods, would that not prove I've been here?"   The soldier laughs, "Yes, but I don't think your claims are being questioned. If you know the way, head to the bridge."   Fraeia's lip quivers as new tears fall. "She wants to see us?"   "She doesn't even know who you are. Go on. Don't be foolish. We are behind you and will fire if need be."   I look up and see the cylinder that stretches through the entire ship, a barrier containing the kaleidoscopic medium. As we walk, I continue looking up eager to catch a glimpse of her.   When we enter the bridge, I hear her voice. "5th fleet to 115, engage enemy ships. 7th and 8th on route to assist. 1pth fleet to 708, maintain defensive-" she pauses and turns to us as we enter, a silhouette without true form suspended in the medium above.   Fraeia wipes the tears away, but it does little to clear their face. The black smears in little trails across their cheek, and that's not even addressing the tears that are just now falling. "Viritine."   Viritine responds as a leader should, cold and calm, "Your name."   "Fraeia. I wish I could expl-"   "I asked for your name, nothing more."   Fraeia's jaw drops, then closes as they rationalize what they likely saw as mistreatment. "Understood."   "You're lebhan. Why are you not on a lebhan ship?" Viritine asks.   "Your orders."   "I've never seen you before."   Fraeia nods. "No, but you will… I think." What follows is a frantic retelling of our journey, and even of what came before I entered the picture.   "Madness," Viritine replies. "You willingly entered the singularity?"   Fraeia chuckles and crosses their arms. "We had little choice, goddess. The logic was sound."   Viritine speaks, and while it can't be seen, I can almost hear the smile, "The vessel most certainly was not. Do you know where you are?"   Fray nods. "The Rainbow Orchard?"   "Yes. This is holy ground."   "Why is everyone fighting?" I ask. Viritine doesn't understand, and turns to Fraeia to translate.   "The lebha are not the only ones who seek the fruits of our orchard. It's cold out there, and desperation demands it."   "Other species?" Fray asks.   "Only three managed to survive to this point," Viritine replies. "Technically only one. It depends on when you ask."   "What?" I say with a sneer. "What does that mean?"   "Lebha, Lebhni, Lebhsi."   The translator feeds the words back, though I already know what it means. It all makes sense now. The eden measure their place in the tree of life not by where they fit on its branches, but when.   Those we are, those we were, and those we will one day be.   Can it be true? Are the Eden the only ones left at the end?   Have they never known peace? Have they spent all this time at war with themselves?


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Apr 11, 2022 14:36

Whoa, now that's crazy! They are fighting themselves from different times?!?

Apr 12, 2022 13:30 by R. Dylon Elder

Oh yes!

Apr 11, 2022 15:05

Absolutely amazing. Had to read it twice :)   Very much looking forward to the next one! Though no pressure.

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Apr 12, 2022 10:17 by TC

God my brain.. I'm gonna need a flowchart by the end of this to make full sense of it because I am not smart enough to figure out myself :')   So the lebha, lebhni and lebhsi are the same species from different times fighting each other to get the viritine? And those who reach the Loop basically become caught up in the cycle from going to lebha to lebhni to lebhsi and back again, over and over? Does that mean that time moves cyclically, or would they forget they have reached Somniheim and reach it again? Is that how Argus went back in the past?

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Apr 12, 2022 13:29 by R. Dylon Elder

Omg! It's crazy how close your are. The next few articles will explain it more, especially with the Lebhsi which have yet to be introduced... well... properly, at least.   I had to make a flow chart to write it so I dont blame you XD I can say though that Viritine is not the goal, and they would remember if they reached Somnihein. That might help with the theories. Thanks so much my friend! Sorry for the headache.

Apr 12, 2022 17:05 by Morgan Biscup


Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Jun 4, 2022 08:26 by Grace Gittel Lewis

WHAT?! I- WHAT?! God that answers a helluva lot, doesn't it.

Jul 4, 2022 18:23 by Stormbril

Omg, what a twist :O This is fascinating and amazing.

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