The Ending Song
“Three hundred and fifty seven thousand, nine hundred and forty six”, Tian muttered monotonously to himself. This was the number of enemies that now surrounded him.
While zombies and mutants made up the majority, there were also androids, Wasteland monsters, phantoms and at the peripheries – Sentinels. Twenty meters tall quadrupeds with a long and extendable tail at the back, the ends of which are now transformed into dark matter cannons, and two pairs of side appendages that housed enough destructive power to level a whole human city. And there were fifteen of them.
Tian scoffed, but without any feeling of derision. It was just a habitual reaction from times gone by, from times when he was still able to feel – from times when ‘they’ were still with him. The thought of ‘them’ caused images to cross Tian’s eyes. A young girl with silky black hair that fell down to her shoulders. Not too long, and not too short, just perfect, was a compliment that he always gave her. In truth, he wanted her to let it grow all the way down to her waist but it was not very practical given their circumstances. He knew that she was such a considerate person that she would sometimes feel guilty about not being able to meet even his petty wants, so he would placate her this way. Although the girl looked no more than her early twenties, Tian knew that this version of her that his mind was showing him was 133 years old. The discrepancy between her age and physical look was not the only thing that was not very human about the girl. Her skin was so smooth and beautiful that it seemed to shine, a beauty that was beyond any normal human. Her eyes were silvery blue like the full moon on a clear night – another thing that was of times gone by. The girl smiled at him and Tian’s heart was shattered again as it did every time he thought of her and knowing that he will never see her again.
Years ago, reminiscing about his loved ones caused Tian to feel anger which, after he was able to reign in the initial blind rage he could use as a driving force for him to fight on. Now though, he only felt emptiness. He just wanted all of this to end. Living for eternity without any reason was more tiring than fighting against a psychopathic race of galaxy conquering aliens that have the power to break the moon and merge it with the Earth with massive Megastructures.
Tian did not flinch as hordes of zombies and mutants; some the size of trucks and buses came charging at him. He continued to drag himself towards the obsidian walls that stretched upwards to the skies and in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
Three meters from Tian, no matter from which direction they came, the zombies and mutants were burnt to ashes by a blue flame. Being mindless, the lower level zombies continued to rush him. The higher level zombies and the mutants that have retained their intelligence hesitated but then loud roars came from further out and even they charged to their destruction. The higher echelons… hiding behind the lackeys, Tian thought. Once upon a time, he really hated this kind of people, not that these could be called people anymore. He never used to think much about it, family, friendship, camaraderie, loyalty… Love. He learned about the value of these things the hard way after the apocalypse and once he knew, he could not live without them. Ironically, he had to and he could not have it otherwise. But after today, maybe he could. This thought came to Tian like a ray of light at the end of a very dark and suffocating tunnel.
He raised his right hand to chest level and swiped it in a horizontal arc. A wave of raging blue flames burst out in every direction with Tian as the center, instantly burning everything within miles to ashes. Then continuing from the same movement, he pointed his right hand in front, towards the obsidian wall. Blue flames and black lightning began to congregate in front of Tian’s outstretched arm and as this accumulation of power grew to the size of a house, it began to take on the shape of a majestic bird. A blue phoenix surrounded by a storm of black lightning.
Eternal Flame: Phoenix Emperor. Tian thought of the Ability that he was going to use, and muttered it aloud. He could have activated the Ability by just thinking about it and even then, it would be overdoing it. Saying it out loud, even muttering the name of the Ability in his soulless, depressed tone would triple the power.
The phoenix’s cry as it arched and spread its wings caused the ground to break and shattered the layers of shield protecting the wall.
Tian felt a tinge of sadistic satisfaction at the feeling of fear that he had invoked in the Overlords that were watching from behind the supposed safety of their obsidian wall. Despite their armor and walls, he could now feel their presence and to some extent their thoughts and emotions.
Eighty Sturmschar, twelve Reich and five Nobles. Enough power by themselves to conquer the former United States of America. Add their specialised armors and a few of their war vehicles and this group could destroy both America and China in less than a month. In short what was waiting for him was the elite force of the Overlords. Once upon a time, any one of these Overlords would have caused them to give up on fighting. It wasn’t until more than fifty years after the end that they decided to send two Reichs and ten Sturmschar to hunt down the evolving Celestials and increasingly powerful Arc Mages among the human race.
Tian’s phoenix flew into the wall of the Overlords city, burning a hole in the obsidian and then continuing to assault the elite army that was waiting for him beyond. Although this army could have laid the Earth to ruins in the past, now after his powers have evolved over two and a half centuries, they were helpless before his overwhelming strength.
However, Tian knew that these Overlords, as powerful as they are individually were only the first of his problems. Individually, the higher echelons of the Overlord society were almost as powerful as Celestials but although the first Celestials appeared within the first decade after the invasion and obtained their full power before the third decade, the Overlords were able to overpower them without needing to send the higher level Overlords. This is because, other than their original powers which made them stronger than humans and even some of the earlier New Humans, the Overlords also possessed superior military technology that was beyond even the former Galactic Union. Due to this, even after the remnants of humanity discovered that some of them possessed great powers that could increase the species’ chances of survival, it was all they could do to just make it through another day. This was the second problem that Tian would have to overcome before his job is done.
“So two out of three was all Phoenix Emperor could take out” Tian commented as he walked through the hole burnt in the wall and was attacked by three shimmering oval objects. He had seen similar technology used by the Overlords but Tian could feel that these suits that were now being used by the remaining three Nobles were very different. More advanced. Way more so than anything that he had seen up to this point. Of course he thought; as the remnants of mankind evolved, so did their invaders. Fear and survival instinct was what drove mankind to move beyond their previous limits, but the Overlords also had those driving factors when facing the human race. They were also terrified of the uncivilised race of weaklings called humans which was why they were very careful in their invasion and later once they had secured the upperhand, excessively brutal.
The three Nobles surrounded Tian and simultaneously fired what appeared to be purple coloured shimmering waves from their suits.
Blue flames and black lightning swirled around Tian, effectively encasing him in a hemispherical protection barrier. This was Tian’s Eternal Flames’ automatic protection set at high level. But then, the flame and lightning swirling around him expanded out like water rushing out from a broken dam. Tian’s Eternal Flames and Dark Lightning clashed with and negated the Nobles’ attack before engulfing the Nobles, disintegrating their war suits and burning the creatures inside.
This attack caused more needless destruction than needed protection, and consumed more power than he actually needed as it spread out in a more than one kilometer radius from Tian.
Well at least it cleared the way. Tian thought to himself to counter the obvious fact that he had wasted power which he could not afford to and which was in contradiction to every logic that he knew and defied every man’s natural instinct to survive.
But Tian did not want to survive this day. Deep down, he hoped that he would die after completing this last mission. This was the reason that he did not follow any of the rules of survival that had been ingrained into the souls of every human being for the last two and a half centuries. Two weeks ago after confirming that this was the long searched for ‘Last City’ that needed to be destroyed to ensure a future for mankind, Tian had used up a third of his then remaining powers to trap his team in an alternate dimension where they could not come after him. He then proceeded to storm the five gates of the Last City alone and without any plan whatsoever. He essentially walked through the front door and annihilated everything in his path. He could have stopped, hidden himself and meditated to regain some of his powers but he did not. After discovering that the Last City had seven gates and not five like the other cities, and that he had come down to less than ten percent of his powers, Tian simply laughed in the face of the endless army of monsters and aliens that were converging on him and continued his march through the heart of enemy territory, blasting and burning everything in his way.
Now as he neared the end of his journey, Tian was down to less than 0.3% of his power. Swarms of Reichs, Sentinels and other high level city guards came out from every nook and cranny of the structures he had destroyed. Tian however paid them no attention. His focus was on the thing in the very center of the city:
A red column of fire coming out of the earth’s core and extending upwards in a funnel that Tian knew extended all the way into space and to one of the Overlords’ countless collection centers where the Earth’s minerals are extracted to build weapons and the energy is used to power those weapons that are used to destroy and enslave the human race. Jet black megastructures extended out from the funnel as far as the eyes can see, like a metallic sky. It has been more than a week since Tian had seen any blue sky, such was the scale of the alien technology known as the Planet Devourer that has totally reshaped the Earth over the past two and a half centuries.
There were several differences between this column of fire and the ones at the center of the other Overlord cities that Tian had destroyed in the past several years since he took on this mission and since it became even possible for them to dream of destroying Overlord cities. Even twenty years ago, destroying just one city required so much time and lives sacrificed. Pulsating blue tendrils snaked around the column, and in the walls and ceiling of the city core. Seeing the blue tendrils made Tian smile. It was the final proof he needed that this was indeed the city that they had been looking for. The sixth and final ‘Wall Generator’ city.
Once he destroys this city, the wall surrounding Pangea should fall along with most of the megastructure. With that, the remaining humans in Pangea should be able to unite with the group in Rodinia and Gondwana and space travel should once again be possible if their calculations were correct. Of course there were a lot of uncertainties with this plan but it was the biggest ray of hope the hundred thousand or so humans remaining in Pangea had. Tian was one of those that was putting their faith in the success of this mission and in the brighter future that it might bring the human race. For Tian though, this was his last mission. He would help his people into this possible future because he was the only one who could do it, and then he wanted to rest – forever. He has no reason to go further than the end of this tunnel.
Tian concentrated his remaining powers on flight and in evading the city guards as he flew towards the column of flame.
He was halfway to the column when he detected several disturbances in the time-space continuum around him. Three spheres appeared from rips in the fabric of space and attacked Tian with the same shimmering wave attack that the Nobles had used earlier except that they fired them in rapid successions and with much power power. Tian was blasted back a hundred meters despite the protection from his Eternal Flames.
I’ve never seen these things before, Tian thought. He charged towards them, concentrating his powers in physical strength and focusing it in his fist. Such a cliche’ attack Tian still managed to think of useless things even in this kind of situation. His cliche’ attack however did not connect as the spheres suddenly grew out shimmering spikes that cut right through Tian’s defences and pierced him.
Tian felt ‘something’ enter his body from the spikes that were embedded in him. He broke the spikes and pulled them out as he retreated a good distance from the spheres but whatever it was that had entered his body continued to spread through his system. This surprised Tian because one of the powers of a Celestial is immunity to practically every known poison in the galaxy. His Eternal Flames also gave him a second layer of protection from such things.
So they’ve made something that even a Celestial’s Immunity and the Eternal Flames cannot fight against, Tian thought with a tinge of worry. He wanted to focus into his body to study this thing and find a cure for it or at least understand how it works; not for himself but for the others who might have to face it again. However the three spheres did not allow him the luxury of dividing his attention for such a task. Their spikes continued to attack him with no relent.
As the poison overtook him, Tian’s movements became more sluggish and the spikes finally caught up to him, impaling him from every angle. Tian could feel life slipping out of him along with every drop of blood that flowed out. His breathing became ragged because his lungs were punctured, and his vision grew blurry. Tian knew that his time was near. He could feel death’s cold hands coming to claim him as he hung in the air from the ends of the shimmering spikes.
Rather than fear or regret, Tian felt relief and happiness. Relief that his suffering of being alone in the world was about to end and happy that he would be able to see the people he loved once again in the next life. The ones that survive after this should be able to move on into the future. He had already lived far too long for a human being. Even though he was a Celestial and could supposedly live forever, he was still born a human. Living to almost three hundred years was not something that humans were used to. No, he had already done his part in this fight and he wanted to rest now. Let other people carry on. But before he went, there was one last thing that he needed to do.
His Celestial powers and magic were all gone but Tian still had one other power and it was all the power he needed to achieve what it was that he came to do.
With his last breath, Tian muttered the magic words: Ending… Song.
A multicoloured light burst from Tian’s dieing body as he burnt the last of his life force for his final attack. The light converged into the form of a multicoloured phoenix. As the phoenix soared through the air, singing the Last Song, the spheres disintegrated as did all the thousands of city guards that were converging on Tian. The column of fire froze and crumbled and along with it came level upon level of enormous megastructures. The blue tendrils disappeared and Tian felt The Wall fall. As it did, he felt the presence of the other humans living in the other land masses. He couldn’t be sure how many there were, there weren’t many but he knew that the human race was not dead. He could also feel space again as the barrier from space travel fell. Mankind will be able to reach for the heavens again. They could leave Earth if they needed to, find resources and allies to retake Earth. Help could also come in. Tian didn’t know what mankind will do from here on, but by destroying The Wall, he had opened up various possibilities. He was satisfied. He was at peace now.
As he closed his eyes, Tian saw the girl again and she made his heart flutter. He also heard children running and laughing and other voices talking and calling a name that was both familiar and also so alien to him.
“Kai, wake up idiot”
Tian woke up with a start. His eyes were blurry and he felt disoriented.
“Kai Akanishi… you dare sleep in my class?” a man’s voice said, trembling with anger.
Tian rubbed his eyes and looked up at the person who was speaking to him. To his surprise, he could hardly see the man even though he was only about a hands breadth away from him. What was wrong with his eyes? Tian wondered. As if from an old habit that he had almost forgotten, he reached in front of him for the glasses that he knew were there.
Wait, what… glasses?
Tian hurriedly put the glasses on and his vision became much clearer. His situation however was not clear as he saw the teacher’s face turn from pink to bright red. He imagined steam coming out from his ears and rising from his half bald head. This image caused Tian to let out a snicker which apparently was not the best of things to do in that moment.
“OUT NOW, GET OUT OF MY CLASS!”
Class? Kai?… Kai… Akanashi? Tian wondered at the name. The world around him seemed to freeze. He stood up and took in his surrounding. A sight that he had not seen since the apocalypse – a school classroom. Small school tables, students in white school uniforms. The angry teacher looked familiar to Tian. The name Salheong was written on his nametag. Mr. Heong… his high school mathematics teacher? As he looked at the students, names started coming out from his memory. Faris, Mark, Mei Mei, Catherine… and then a realization came to Tian.
I… I’m in school? I’ve gone back in time to highschool?
He looked to his left where the window reflected his appearance. His sixteen year old self.
“I am… Kai Akanashi. I’m in highschool?” Tian muttered in bewilderment.