© 2009, Patrick Hester. All Rights Reserved
Tales from The New Universe: The Guardian
All I had to do was save the world.
Her name is Alison. I met her ten years ago. We were married eighteen months later by a Priest without a flock on a mountain with the snow falling all around us and the sun hidden behind thick cloud cover. It wasn’t love at first site. We both had a lot of baggage.
Eventually, we had four children together; Ben, Ashley, Naomi and Jordan. I got to name the first born, Ben, but then I was told that I lacked the imagination for naming kids as each subsequent child was born. I didn’t care as long as they were healthy, which they were. They’re gone now.
I watch her from a distance, sipping her coffee in one of those little white cups with the lids that seem to be all the craze. I’d forgotten about those. And she doesn’t know me now. We haven’t met yet. Probably never will now. The guy across from her is her husband. James, I think. Never met him. He wasn’t in the picture when we first met.
The motorcycle vibrates between my legs as I race down the highway. I need to stop watching her. That was another life, a life that won’t happen now, can’t happen. I can’t seem to let go, though.
The cave serves two purposes; it gives me a place where I can do my work without being discovered and it reminds me of the comics I used to read as a kid. I always was a sucker for comics. No bats in this one that I’ve seen yet. I try not to think about how this cave used to be filled with hundreds of people. If I’ve done my job right, it will never have to serve as a home to so many refugees seeking shelter from the storms.
“Welcome home, sir.” Home. Right. The voice is pleasant enough. I based it on Alison’s because I like being tortured. Goes with the whole ‘living in a cave’ motif. So does the giant super computer with the AI running stuff for me. Amazing what you can do with lottery winnings.
“Telemetry?” I asked as I toss my coat on the sleeper sofa. The heaters I installed a couple weeks ago kick on and start to take the chill out of the air.
“Twelve objects approaching upper atmosphere. Four are viable for reentry.”
Damn. That’s how I screwed up – I never considered debris or stellar drift in my planning or my calculations. Enough of the stuff made it to the planet’s surface to change things forever. My fault. My responsibility. Now it’s spread out, impossible to find until it’s on target for planet fall.
“Drones?” I asked. Felt a twinge in my gut. They were coming fewer and far between now. When I first came back, they would rip me apart for hours at a time. Now, they were ‘twinges’ that went as fast as they came. Progress, I suppose.
“Armed and ready for launch. Sir? The military has been actively attempting to track our drones for some time. I do not believe they appreciate our efforts to eliminate the debris before it can be retrieved by them.”
No. Of course they don’t. Neither do any of the private contract firms who are also scrambling for more sources of this tech. But I’m still ahead of them. Decades ahead. Perhaps more when it comes right down to it.
“Cloaking devices are still working, aren’t they?” I ask. The chair squeaks as I sit down, reminding me that I need to oil it. Soon.
“As far as we are aware, yes,” she says. “However, I do not wish to underestimate their ability to cleverly use the technology they already have to break through our countermeasures.”
“We won’t. If they take out the drones, I’ll go myself.” I turn, the suit catching the light just right. Have to admit, I’m putting it on more and more these days. Too many people have gotten their hands on the technology from the fleet, the little bits that have been slowly floating towards Earth since I carried out my plan, mined the area of their arrival and, I thought, blew the bastards to kingdom come. It was all to change the future, save the human race from near extinction.
I never counted on the debris falling to Earth and pushing technology years ahead of where it should be.
“Debris is beginning planet fall.”
“Launch drones for intercept – full countermeasures. Monitor military frequencies and chatter for a heads up on any attempts at interception.”
“Drones are away.”
I lean back, watching the telemetry on the monitor, fingers steepled before me.
“Keyword search has triggered an alert – Tokyo. News is reporting a ‘hovering weapons platform’ attacking the city, threatening to destroy it unless a ransom is paid.”
I sigh. We humans never learn. “I’m on my way.” I put the suit on, a combination of human and alien technology, something I had to build to protect me in space as I laid my trap, and had to modify to destroy alien and hybrid technologies being used back here on Earth. I point my arm and the platform locks the tires of the bike in place and flips, revealing my tethered hovercycle.
“First drone has impacted. Debris has been vaporized.”
“Update me en route.”
Where I come from, the world ended on January 14th, 2007. An invasion fleet appeared behind Mars, then attacked the Earth, killing billions and enslaving the rest. Only a few remained, refugees like me, freedom fighters waging a war to free our world. I traveled back in time, using their own technology against them, to destroy them before they could get anywhere near the Earth. Change everything. Save the world.
I destroyed them, but I failed to save the world.
Now it’s my responsibility to make it right, protect us from ourselves.
They call me ‘Guardian’ in the news.
I suppose that works.