Like the world’s impending downfall, the darkness encompassed the room in all directions. All that could be seen was the blinding light, the bright exposure of a computer monitor. It made one side of the room glow in its white aura; the featureless walls exposed. The monitor belonged to a laptop, settled upon a wide desk. The screen was still; hundreds of numbers and letters ran across it, their meaning unknown. The only audible sounds were those of the thin scratching of a pencil on a dry notebook; a figure sat there at the desk, writing a vast amount of information straight from his mind.
Theories, calculations, observations… as a true scientist, the great Sir Dusk made simulation after simulation in his notebook. He would write for a minute, look to his work, and subsequently, shake his head and turn to another blank page. He was unable to determine the results of the events that had occurred; he could not verify the consequences of his actions, as well as those of others.
He should have been content… He was not. With the help of friends, both old and new, he had successfully taken some of his former subjects out of an intimidating and dark facility. He helped them escape from The Miraxis Index. The Miraxis Corporation had long sought to create that hellish place, a structure that served only the purpose of lying to its guests whilst slyly training them to become super-soldiers. It was designed to take advantage of the abilities that they had been gifted, and it suppressed many of their natural instincts.
This was nothing like the rewrite of history that Sir Dusk had originally intended. When he invented the Temporius, a machine that could take him to the past, he envisioned a different path, a different series of events. He later found out that he was not alone in his endeavors; the watchful eyes of a military corporation, considered a rival of Sir Dusk’s own company, had managed to peek in at just the right time. Sir Dusk’s historical expedition to go back and change the world’s fate was no longer his secret alone. When he leapt back in the timeline, his legendary company of Mireal Enterprises, a bio-implant and augmentation group, was quite suddenly owned by a greedy and power-hungry force. Soon after, he and his colleagues no longer worked in their own rights; they had become part of the notorious military group, The Miraxis Corporation.
It was his journey back in time that proved to be the biggest mistake of all. He only wanted to save the world from a threat that had ended it just before his eyes… twice before. His quest to change the past failed on the first attempt. His second attempt ended before it began; The Miraxis Corporation purchased his company and received all of the research on the future events of the Shadowborne and the whole world. They saw Sir Dusk’s move, and they made their own, yet they had somehow travelled further back than he had. Consequently, Sir Dusk had to spend years adhering to the demands of The Miraxis Corporation, for the sake of the lives of those around him, until now.
The man dropped his pencil in surprise. He turned back at breakneck speed but soon found himself releasing a great sigh of relief. He shook his head; he was not angry, but he surely was not amused.
“Avlis, you must stop doing that, you don’t want to kill me now, do you?”
Lightly, Sir Dusk eventually smiled to himself. He slowly got up to face his visitor. Avlis returned a cheeky grin, an expression typically unseen from him. He had grown tired and weary, but he found himself comforted with Sir Dusk. He was inspired by him; he owed everything to the man that saved him from the fate he would have faced in The Miraxis Index.
“It’s good to see you Sir; I must admit that I was not sure if you would make it out of there.”
“You underestimate me Avlis, but that is how many see me, and I use it to my advantage.”
“Forgive me; I am glad you’re here.”
Sir Dusk nodded in approval; he admired Avlis’s respect in all of his matters as well as his undying loyalty in Sir Dusk’s mission. Ever since Sir Dusk helped the man escape from The Miraxis Index, he had been working with his savior in a plethora of objectives, most notably, getting two more Miraxis Agents out of the facility. Avlis was the key to all that had happened.
“Avlis, I’m very grateful for your help through these times, you’ve been a great assistant, and an even better friend.”
“I appreciate your words Sir Dusk, but you must save them for others. I alone have not been your source of help.”
Listening as he backed up, Sir Dusk lowered himself down into his seat, turning the chair towards Avlis. When he was comfortable, he continued.
“That is true, but they are not here for me to speak with. They know they have my thanks, and now you do as well.”
Avlis, as was in his habitual nature, began to stroll about the room as he spoke. He immediately switched to another topic of interest.
“How have our friends been? I am aware Riquen and the others made it out before the lockdown, but what about Anna?”
“Ms. Gryphus? You need not worry about her Avlis. As a nurse, she was dispatched from the facility during the evacuation. She is unharmed and on the way home. She has been compensated for her efforts; I made sure she was rewarded for the risks she took for this plan to succeed.”
“-and The Miraxis Corporation? Are they aware of the involvement of our compatriots?”
Calmly, Sir Dusk shook his head. It was a gesture that loosened Avlis’s stance and brought peace once more to his mind.
“They have been blind; The Miraxis Corporation is under the belief that the failure of the facility is their own fault. They believe that all of those who have escaped did so because of faults in the system. There is no doubt that they will be looking to get a hold on their subjects once again; fortunately, I’ve convinced them that we are not involved, and if they find themselves desperate to search for us, they will discover there are no traces to lead them.“
“Speaking of which… Sir Dusk, what is the meaning of all of this?”
Sir Dusk’s expression dampened; he knew that it was his responsibility to withhold an incredible amount of information, but he also understood the meaning and necessity of trust. Avlis had helped him with so much, but the young man had never been given even a sliver of the bigger picture. His experiences led him to follow Sir Dusk through everything, but it did not mean that he was aware of the greater matters at hand.
“-just tell me anything Sir Dusk. Give me something that I can work with.”
Avlis, though understanding of Sir Dusk’s predicament, was not quite at ease anymore. He found himself lost in this world, and rightfully so. It was to his misfortune that Sir Dusk was unable to tell the whole story.
“You must believe me Avlis, there are things I cannot say. They would break rules; they would break dimensions. You cannot know what lingers in my mind, but I assure you, that does not make it easier for me. I have told you the only things I can; in thirty-one days, the Shadowborne affliction will surface on this earth. A week after that, this world, as we know it, will be over. You and the others are essential to changing the future. I just hope you can trust me.”
Avlis crossed his arms; his expression said it all. He had heard these words many times before and they never became any clearer. He just had to dwell on the thin information he knew; he had to put his faith before the facts.
“I understand Sir.”
“My apologies, it is out of my control.”
Tranquil with the conclusion that he would not get any more out of the wise man, Avlis turned away and took a few steps. He stood facing away from Sir Dusk as he inquired for the last time.
“All right, what do you need me to do?”
Quietly, Sir Dusk made his request.
“It would be a great help if you would assist in the matter with Sorin and Allyia. We’ll need to find out where they’ve been transferred to.”
Calmly, Avlis turned back to Sir Dusk. He held his cane vertically, lifting it up straight with a light movement. It was his signature move and those who knew him were aware of what would follow next. Yet, before he tapped the floor and dissipated from the scene, he spoke his final words to the great man who saved him.
“Sir Dusk, I believe in you and your plan. We will make things right, and when this is all over, you will be able to rest.”
Quickly, Avlis lowered the bottom of his cane to the floor. As he tapped the surface below, the thin sound of wind could be heard, for just a moment, and he was gone. Sir Dusk turned back to his work. He was quick to return to the matters at hand, but he took Avlis’s words to heart.
Avlis was dedicated to Sir Dusk’s plan… Maybe he would regret his dedication later. Getting out of The Miraxis Index was one thing, but the work that remained was far greater. The escape was a hiccup, an unnecessary slowdown to the plot to save Earth. With what remained, Sir Dusk could only hope for the best. Troubled, he looked up to the monitor where much of his data resided. He scrolled his eyes to the date indicator of the computer. It was July 18, 2027. The date he feared stood just a month away… August 18.
Thirty-one days… Just as he told Avlis. In thirty-one days, seven humans around the world would become the first overcome by the Shadowborne condition. The first step of Sir Dusk’s plan was complete, partially at least. He knew the whereabouts of three of the victims that would become those demonic figures, three of the original seven that would kick-start the end of the world. He had just now sent Avlis to find two more, which brought him to the potential knowledge of five of the first seven that would become those dark figures. The sixth Shadowborne had apparently passed away in this timeline, and he would no longer be a threat. Nevertheless, one still remained.
He would have to improvise without the original Shadowborne, Sariph. Within minutes of her appearance in The Miraxis Index, she succumbed to the Shadowborne influence and ported away with powers unheard of. Her location was completely unknown. It was clear, according to facility logs and Sir Dusk’s own experiences, that she had made several visits to that facility during his stay.
This was the last chance to save the world; this was the last timeline that had been altered. Many involved in the plan had hope, but as Sir Dusk worked away on preparing for the next steps, he could not help but feel the peering eyes of that woman. Sariph was watching…
It was at that moment that he feared that this timeline was bound to fall. The doom of Earth was inevitable, for the failure to keep Sariph controlled meant that she lingered with the beginnings of the Shadowborne invasion already; and the Earth did not know any better. Maybe thirty-one days was no longer the right countdown, maybe the darkness would take over earlier than expected, earlier than it had in the two previous timelines.
It was up to the others; the first people who became Shadowborne puppets in the original fate of Earth were now the greatest influence on the survival of humankind. Sir Dusk held on to that thought and claimed responsibility for giving them the resources and the knowledge to stop the inevitable Shadowborne takeover for the last time. The difference between this timeline and the others was that here, the greatest threat to the emergence of the Shadowborne would be themselves. The greatest fear of the enemy of the world would be its own origins.
Avlis, Kaiyandra, Xathoven, Sorin, and Allyia… they were what stood between the Shadowborne and a world reigned by their darkness. Perhaps said Shadowborne may even be led by Sariph herself. The hope of a blinded world stood on the shoulders of those five souls; their actions would carve the definitive future of Earth. This was the only chance to get things right.
But enough of this…
Mentally exhausted, Sir Dusk decided that it was time to call it a day. Content with the latest information of Marlin and Gina’s whereabouts, he closed the laptop and pushed it aside gently. Placing his pencil at the edge of his page as a marker, he lifted his spiral notebook and flipped it back to the cover. He sighed to himself as he got out of his chair and organized the remaining contents of his desk.
Sir Dusk glanced around briefly… Assured that he was alone, he headed slowly to the door disguised in a dark corner, but on his casual walk over, he suddenly stopped in his tracks.
There was no mistake; he had felt a unique tingling sensation on the back of his neck. He bent his head a little bit and reached back with his hand. He moved his palm about the back of his neck, searching the surface of his skin for some sort of cut or irritation… There was nothing. The thin pain faded, and he was distracted no longer.
Sir Dusk continued to the door, pondering lightly upon the sting he had just felt. It must have been just a slight issue, maybe he held his head in a strange position as he wrote, or maybe he turned too awkwardly when speaking to Avlis. Either way, he neglected the event as meaningless. He turned the doorknob, pulled, and left the room behind.
He thought it would be best to rest, even if only for a few hours.