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The Inevitable Heat Death of the Universe

By DroughtofApathy All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Scifi

Chapter 1

Greetings my dear readers! Before we begin I would like to share some critical advice with the masses.

Never assume anything. Whatever happens, just go with it. The tale I am about to tell is lost words and burnt souls. They were not the fortunate, they were not the misfits, and they were not the heroes.

Of course, my real advice would be to stop listening to people’s advice, and decide for yourself. Have fun, and don’t die.

The Earth burned, the dead’s screams lingered in the air perhaps a bit too long, and still no help came. Babes in arms wailed, for all the good it would do them. Come nightfall, only their charred little corpses would remain. In time they would fade from memory as they did from life. I always say that no matter what, the world would not cease to exist, the seasons would come and go and the planets would continue their orbits. This time would be different. For once, winter would not be coming.

For eons, the human race saw themselves to be far superior to whatever else was out there. Imagine their surprise when they found this to be utterly false. Nevertheless, they were still the most arrogant beings in their immediate universe and it would be their downfall. The humans had become far too powerful and ridiculously cruel. The other beings felt that they could not be allowed to continue their existence.  

The universe needed cleansing, starting with Homo saipen saipen. They did not consider the fact that there were innocents. Young children, and millions upon millions of other species inhabited the places where humans dwelled. There was no sympathy for the wildlife, the landscape. Though regrettably, after so many years of abuse the natural ecosystems were all but gone.  

Oh don’t look so frightened darlings. Are those tears? Honestly. Compose yourself already. This is happening in tens of thousands of years. You’ll survive, I guarantee it. Besides, if you think the human race is going down without a say in the matter you have another think coming. Oh yes, the last human resistance had a plan.

Ileana Abrams had a history of never giving up, and never surrendering. She wasn’t about to stop now. The battle raged all around her, though it could hardly be classified as a battle. It was a massacre.

Dirt and grime coated her entire normally pale and blonde person. Despite her utter exhaustion, she showed no signs of dropping either of her guns.  

A hand grabbed her shoulder. Whirling around, she brought the butt of her gun to his temple.

“They said you’d be difficult.” A gruff voice said, grabbing her from behind.

“Then they didn’t give you a proper warning.” Ileana muttered. Dropping to one knee, she allowed gravity to flip the much heavier body over her slim shoulders. Just as she aimed her gun at her assailant’s brain, she felt a small pinch at her neck.

“Oh that’s cheating. Ileana muttered as she collapsed to the blood coated ground. Her voice contained traces of a long dead British accent.

Halfway across the world, a Filipino woman named Phaedra was being taken down in a similar manner. She too was unable to escape, though she left a significantly higher body count in her wake.

In fact, in total, there were seven individuals from across the globe being abducted. Do not worry my dears. No real harm would come their way... that is if they cooperated. And it was very likely that they would. Very likely indeed. In fact, they already knew exactly what was coming... well they thought they did.

Ileana snapped awake several hours, and three continents later. She lay on a metal slab, placed in the middle of an obnoxiously bright room. Scrubbed clean, and redressed in fresh clothing, she couldn’t help but feel slightly violated. No matter.

The doors slid open and the leader of the Last Human Resistance entered.

“You had a bunch of idiots kidnap me right off the battlefields. This had better be important.” Ileana snapped.

“The war is not going well.”

“The entire planet is in ruins. Most of the population lay dead or dying.” Ileana responded.

“The war is not going well.” He repeated. “We have a mission so to speak. We need you to go back and ensure that things go right.”

“Well fine. Let’s get moving then.” She said briskly.

“There is something else. You will be given a team to ensure maximum success rate.” He said.

“I can hardly wait.” Ileana said snidely.

“And one more thing. You will have a co-leader.” Ileana stopped dead.

“I don’t share well. Who is it?”

“They call her the Dark Beauty, though not to her face. Phaedra, though I’d wager that is not her real name. She was born and raised in the Philippines.”

“When you say co-leader, you really mean babysitter. I don’t need one.” Ileana insisted.

“First of all, Phaedra is the last person that should be trusted around children. Also, if we allowed you to lead six other people, the deed would never get done. You are far too headstrong, and don’t think things through. You’re inclined to be much too self-destructive, and let your feelings rule your head.”

“I am not ruled by emotions!” Ileana shouted. The leader just raised his eyebrow in response. “Fine. But if she manages to screw this up...”

They walked to the end of the hall. Right away, they were met with yelling and the sound of breaking glass. An attendant was desperately trying to attach some sort of listening device onto the woman whom Ileana assumed was Phaedra.

“What on earth are you doing?” Ileana asked, carefully avoiding the shattered glass.

“I’m trying to put this translation device on her, but every time she I get near her, she throws something at my head!” The attendant waved his arms in distress. Phaedra snarled at him. He threw up his hands. “I give up! Here, you try.”

The leader looked vaguely amused as the attendant shoved the machine at Ileana before stomping off.

“I’ll leave you two alone to get to know each other. The others will be here shortly.”

“Okay, um...” Ileana tilted her head. Phaedra was tiny. She should have expected that. And she could definitely tell why they called her the Dark Beauty. “You really should... oh here.” She stepped forward to attach the chip thing.

“Honestly.” Phaedra snapped, knocking it out of Ileana’s hand. “I feel slightly offended that you all assume I can’t understand you.”

“Oh, so you do speak English then.”

“Well you white people annihilated my culture eons ago.” Phaedra said dismissively. “The entire world made the switch, so why should I be any different?”

“I’m sorry about that, but not all-”

“Hold it right there, sweetheart.” Phaedra cut her off. “Maybe not all white people are blatantly racist, but all white people benefit from institutional racism.”

Things were not getting off to a good start.

“Alright, whatever. You and I are supposed to lead this thing. So lead, follow, or get out of my way.”

“Okay, princess. Here’s the thing. I know all about you. You’re impulsive, and too easily goaded. You’re definitely intelligent enough, but prefer brawn over brain. You’ll do anything to get the job done, even at the expense of others. However, when all is said and done, you can be the most hypocritical person ever. You’ll condemn anyone who’s willing to risk human life if it’s not you. I am not impulsive. I consider every outcome, and border on indecisiveness. Brawny bitches- sorry people- like you will see this as weakness, and cowardly. You see the world in shades of grey. I see millions upon millions of colors. You claim to be a feminist, and yet your internalized misogyny is overwhelming. I recognize that the war cannot be won with more female bloodshed, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything you say.” Phaedra gave her the most infuriatingly smug look.

“We can channel our inner politicians, and pretend to get along, all the while undermining each other. Or we can cut the crap and get things done. I can manage either way.”

“I like the second option. But it wouldn’t make this easy.” Ileana replied.

“Darling, I couldn’t care less about how this mission goes.” Phaedra said.

“Then why the hell are you here?” Ileana demanded.

“Front row seats to see the Earth burn? I wouldn’t miss this for, well, for the world.” Phaedra chuckled darkly.

So focused on one thing, Ileana didn’t notice how close they had become. Phaedra had, but she wasn’t about to be the first one to back down.

“Oh, am I interrupting?” An entirely too cheerful woman had entered without them noticing.

“Not at all, dear.” Phaedra said without glancing over. “I can only imagine how suggestive this looks.”

Blushing ever so slightly, Ileana stepped back. For her part, Phaedra didn’t gloat. She had won the battle, but had yet to win the war.

“My name’s Annette Lane.” The woman said, all smiles. The other two women exchanged glances.

Half an hour later, the last of their group, a petite Indian woman, sheepishly snuck in.

“I’m sorry.” She said in a deep, soft voice. “I had a bit of an allergic reaction to the chemicals they have me.”

Everyone braced themselves, clearly expecting Phaedra to say something snarky like she had been doing for the past half hour.  Surprisingly, Phaedra only gave the woman a slight smile.

“We can start getting to know each other now.” Annette Lane grinned, bouncing on her toes. With her vibrant purple glasses, and pink-streaked blonde hair, she looked better dressed for a rave than a mission involving total destruction of the human race.

“Must we waste time with pointless introductions?” Phaedra sighed. “I don’t particularly care who you are. Knowing you will just make it that much more inconvenient when you die out of sheer stupidity.”

“Well aren’t you just a ray of joy.” The Indian woman quipped. “I’m Evelina Bryant, even though you don’t care.”

“I like her.” Phaedra announced, surprising them for the second time.

“What did I do?” Evelina asked.

“Well for starters, you’ve mixed up two separate phrases. It’s a “bundle of joy”, or “a ray of sunshine.” It’s cute. I suppose this won’t be so terrible.”

“Ooh! We should play a game!” Annette exclaimed.

“NO!” Phaedra and Ileana snapped.

“Just tell us who you are. That’s it.” Ileana said more calmly.

“I’m Nathan Shafer.” Said a balding man with square glasses.

“Neal Bennett.” The only other man in the room spoke. Ileana eyed him. He seemed to be the only other one in the room who even knew what a gun was, let alone how to fire it. Tall and muscular, his rugged hair and beard gave him an off-putting look.”

Annette happily reintroduced herself, and Evelina waved them off.

“Well, I’m Ileana Abrams. Apparently I’ll be leading this operation.”

“I think everyone knows who you are.” Neal said, smirking at her.

“I don’t.” A woman, maybe mid-forties said, speaking for the first time.

“Where have you been living, under a rock?” Neal asked.

“I don’t really pay attention to politics and all that.” The woman shrugged. “I don’t particularly care one way or another.”

“What’s your name?” Evelina asked nicely.

“Valaria. What about you?” She asked Phaedra.

“They call her the Dark Beauty.” Neal interrupted.

“Oh no...” Ileana muttered.

“Call me that again, and I’ll  have you castrated.” Phaedra threatened calmly. “Isn’t it just like a man to value looks over anything else?”

“Phaedra, don’t start.” Ileana warned.

“I hope you all realize what you’re getting into. We’re not off to summer camp, so you can forget campfire games. We’re traveling in time itself. Many people are going to die. If you cannot handle the smell of rotting flesh and blood, then I suggest you leave now.” Phaedra warned, gearing up for a long monologue. “Keep in mind that you will all be in constant peril, and are expected to be willing to die a horrible death to get the job done. Become best friends if you like, but don’t expect to have the time to have a proper funeral when one of us dies.”

“Is this really necessary right now?” Evelina asked.

“We are going back to several points in time. You will inevitably see someone you know, but remember when we go back we are the enemy. Do try not to murder your mothers, or grandfathers please. You would then cease to exist, which would cause a paradox that, quite frankly, gives me a headache. And we all know how devastated I would be if something were to happen.”

“How comforting. Not terrifying at all.” Valaria muttered.

“Actually we don’t’ have to worry about that.” Nathan said excitedly. “Okay, I’ve been working on this for years and it finally works! It’s a cryptographic, bacterial cellular cloaking device.”

“Sorry, what?” Annette blinked. “Are you sure that you didn’t just throw words together?”

“It’ll protect us from any paradoxes we might, and probably will, create.” Nathan explained. “With this thing on your person, you could theoretically murder your own parents and still exist.”

“Fascinating.” Phaedra ran her fingers over the smooth crystals. “I could go back to the very beginning of time and destroy everything.”

“Don’t even think about it.” Ileana warned.

 “There are seven charms, one for each of us. Who wants what color?” Nathan asked.  Phaedra took the midnight blue one, not bothering to check what anyone else took. This will be important for later, so remember.

“This violates all laws and morals.” Annette said, but she gladly took the pink one anyway.

“I know, isn’t it great?” Phaedra asked.

The voyage through time was not as smooth as it was made out to be. They were hurled through, and out of the vortex rather violently into the 32nd century. They would have to rest for at least twelve hours this first time. Time travel had a tendency to do bad things to a person. What with four of the seven under 5’4”, they were in for a rough night.

Evelina fainted dead away the moment she tried to stand, and Nathan was plagued with a severe nosebleed.

“God, I hate time travel.” Ileana muttered, lifting Evelina to the first ‘safe’ house.

“I can get her.” Neal offered.

“I’m fine.” Ileana said, without glancing over.

“Don’t want a lady to hurt herself.”

“She couldn’t weigh more than ninety-five pounds soaking wet. Like I said, I’m fine. “ Ileana said, more harshly.

“Whatever you say, Captain.” He grinned, going to the room he would share with Nathan.

“I get the feeling I am not going to like him very much.” Ileana muttered.

The first ‘safe’ house was small. Like ridiculously small. We’re talking the size of a 20th century Manhattan apartment in Greenwich village. Not some of the nice ones. This thing was maybe five-hundred square feet, maybe.

The boys got the actual bedroom because the girls outnumbered them by more than double.

“I guess chivalry really is dead. They didn’t even offer us the bed.” Annette grumbled, searching for a pain reliever.

“So?” Valaria asked, applying a cool facecloth to her forehead. “Staying in separate rooms is old fashioned enough. We don’t need to add fake politeness into the picture.”

“Besides, if we are doing the whole ‘separate rooms’ thing, it’s more logical for us to be in here. If a bit heteronormative.” Phaedra said, curling up in a small armchair.

“C’mon!” Annette beamed. “We have twelve hours. We gotta do something to pass the time.”

“We just jumped thousands of years into the past, and you look like death is just around the corner.” Phaedra muttered. “So why are you so bloody cheerful?”

“I guess it’s just my sunny disposition.” Annette answered.

“Maybe save some of that sunshine for a later date. We don’t want to wake Evelina.” Ileana said, gesturing to a pile a blankets.

“Don’t worry about me.” A muffled voice said. “Just leave me here to die. I’m good as rain.”

“Feeling a bit melodramatic are we?” Valaria asked, braiding her hair. “Also, I’m fairly certain it’s ‘right as rain’.”

“Oh leave her alone.” Ileana chided. “She’s affected more strongly than you because she’s so tiny.”

“By that logic, her majesty over here should be as good as dead.” Valaria said, nodding to Phaedra who was busy typing away on her tablet.

“It’ll get better the more you do it. It’s like sex in that way.” Phaedra said, not looking up.

“Phaedra!” Evelina gasped, turning red.

“Oh calm yourself.” Phaedra said, though there was no sting in her words. “Ah. Buckle up, princesses. It’s going to be a rough night.”

They would soon learn that things would not be as simple as once thought. Now. I won’t describe the fantastic battles. I find them to be utterly dull, and far too predictable. Oh, what’s that? You want to hear about them? Oh alright. Choose a number from one to five. Five you say? Three it is!

The One Where Two of them Almost Die Tragically

“We’ll need to separate into groups for this one.” Ileana said. “Annette, you stay here. Stand by for medical assistance because we’re gonna need it. Evelina, you and Nathan set up the...the... the thing.”

“The, ah, trap?” Nathan supplied.

“Yeah, that thing.” Ileana agreed. “Now we need two groups, one on either side. One to distract, and one to get the damn chip. And yes, I know that’s not the actual name for it, Nathan.”

“Well,” Phaedra surveyed the remaining three. “This is a no win situation here for everyone involved.”

“Oh, I am definitely going to regret this one.” Ileana muttered. “Come on, Neal.”

“That leaves you and me, your majesty.” Valaria said, loading her weapon.

“See you on the other side, Princess.” Phaedra nodded to Ileana.

Evelina and Nathan crept along the narrow corridors of the landed spacecraft. Their task was simple, kill the Batman. No? Not funny? Fine, be that way. They actually needed to blow the thing up after the others got the chip and transported the hell out.

They were somewhat hindered by the fact that they were 48th century people, and the technology readily available was so 37th century. Thus, they were connected only by a basic earpiece. Oh, and also, if Evelina made one false move, she could theoretically end the Earth right then and there.

Evelina worked efficiently by wiring the explosives into the belly of the ship. Nathan did his part by hacking the mainframe, and keeping everyone, and anyone from entering.

Ileana and Neal were not the stealthy type. Hence their job required no sneaking around. They went in guns blazing. A distraction of the finest nature. Well, whatever it was, it worked. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t. When two unauthorized personnel boarded your ship, waving deadly weapons, and generally being destructive, people tend to pay attention. This made it easy...well easier, for Phaedra and Valaria to infiltrate the ship and get the chip.

Now, when I call Ileana and Neal loud and destructive, they were mice compared to the other two. It wasn’t that Phaedra and Valaria couldn’t be inconspicuous. It was just that they didn’t particularly care. Neither were inclined to run without just cause, and if an unfortunate soul happened to cross their path, well they’d get a bullet in their head of course.

“Have you gotten the chip yet?” Ileana’s voice cracked through their earpieces.

“We’re working on it.” Valaria answered, firing her gun at yet another unwelcome being.

“Well pick up the pace a little.” Neal yelled over the noise. “We’re a little outnumbered!”

“Calm yourself!” Phaedra snapped. “I’ve got it.”

“Then get the hell out so we can blow it up.” Neal said.

“Is everyone out of harm’s way?” Evelina asked anxiously. “You’ve got the civilians out?”

“Evelina…” Ileana began.

“NO! No you promised!” Evelina gasped. “It’ll kill everyone. I can’t…”

“Evelina. I warned you that you couldn’t be afraid to die. Well you can’t be afraid to kill either.” Phaedra said.

“Are-are you far enough away?” Nathan asked. Phaedra and Valaria exchanged glances. Others were coming. They couldn’t possibly make it out of danger in time. It had to happen now.

“Blow it up.” Valaria said, with conviction.

“Then you’re good?” Ileana asked.

“Do it!” Phaedra snapped, avoiding the question. “Nuke the bastards before you miss your chance.”

“I am so going to regret this.” Evelina moaned, which was quickly becoming a sort of catch phrase for the group. She hit the big red button before they could think too much of the repercussions.

Yeah, you can imagine how well that turned out. In addition to doing its actual purpose, the blast severed their connections.

“C’mon!” Evelina gasped. “We have to make sure that everyone made it back okay.” In case you were wondering, they hadn’t.

“They didn’t get back in time.” Ileana said, waving to the transporter pads. “Phaedra, and Valaria are still out there.”

“Hold still!” Annette demanded, trying to disinfect their numerous injuries.

“There is almost no way they could have survived that blast.” Nathan said, pacing. “It was designed to leave no survivors.”

“So...” Evelina looked near tears. “They’re basically dead.”

“Damn.” Neal muttered. “They had the chip. What? You knew neither of them would care about anyone of us. Ileana, you hate Phaedra. You won’t shut up about her.”

“Phaedra, and Valaria may be some of the most infuriating beings on the planet, but we need them.” Ileana said. “You remember what they did for me?”

Nathan sat on the transporter pad in defeat. He jumped up instantly as the thing began to glow. It was not the two MIAs, but rather the chip this entire bloody mess revolved around. They all stared at each other. If this was here, that meant they were alive somewhere.

Valaria and Phaedra struggled to escape the debris. How they managed to survive was beyond them.

“Oh come on.” Valaria yelled. “I said I didn’t mind dying, but this is just pathetic. I did not live through a gigantic explosion just to be thwarted by a stupid rock.”

“Yes, well get used to it.” Phaedra said. “I used the last of the power to get the chip back. We’re trapped. How tedious.”

“So what you’re saying is that I’m stuck in the 37th century with you?” Valaria groaned. “Just great.”

“Well do try to contain your enthusiasm.” Phaedra said. “Wouldn’t want to scare me away.”

“Darling. The entire forces of Genghis Khan, and the inevitable heat death of the universe couldn’t scare you away.” Valaria said.

“You flatter me.” Phaedra drawled.

“Are you two just going to continue having a sass-off, or can we try to beam you back?” A voice crackled into the previously dead earpieces.

“Took you long enough, princess.” Phaedra said.

“It has literally been less than ten minutes!” Annette protested.

Ileana told them all to quit complaining and two hours later they were back. Unfortunately, they transported from one battlefield, only to appear right into the center of another. This brings us to #3.5.

The One Where Evelina Has a Death Wish

Phaedra and Valaria were barely back for a minute before Evelina, of all people, descended upon them. This was very unlike Evelina. Annette was usually the one who was a bit hysterical. Evelina usually kept everyone calm. Not today.

“You two are idiots!” Evelina screamed. “And the rest of you are just as bad. Did you all know what was going to happen? Did everybody know but me? Annette, you were okay with this?”

“I didn’t ask.” Annette said, backing away slowly.

“Well fine. If you didn’t tell me, I’d be okay. I’d survive. But you all just blatantly lied to my face, Phaedra. Yeah, the truth would have torn me up, but I would much rather be ripped to shreds than lied to my entire life!” Evelina ranted. “Are you so damaged, and broken inside that you don’t trust me? What the hell happened to you to make you so bitter?”

“Alright sweetheart.” Phaedra had been determined to not yell at Evelina. Against her better judgement, she liked this woman. However, patience was not one of her strong suits. Murder sprees, now those she was good at.

“I don’t take kindly to being yelled at. Do not ever talk to me about my trust issues. I am well aware of what happens when you trust and I’m not missing out on much. Now I’m not a therapist so if you’ve got a problem, either deal with it subtly or keep it repressed.”

“You really have no problem whatsoever killing all those innocent people?” Evelina gaped.

“To get this mission done? Well, put it this way. I’d personally burn down the Library of Alexandria to get the job done. Exploding a bunch of people, so what? It was the right thing to do.” Phaedra said.

“The right thing to do?” Evelina repeated incredulously. “That was literally the opposite of the right thing!”

“Oh, and I suppose you think you’re the hero of this tale?” Phaedra scoffed. “I hate to break it to you, sweetheart... no wait, I take it back. I’ll enjoy telling you this. You’re one of the reasons everything is going to hell.”

“You... you know what?” Evelina stared at her, tears welling in her eyes. “When I accepted this job, they made sure to warn me about the monsters in the world. I should have known you’d be one of them.”

“Evelina!” Nathan looked shocked.

“It’s okay, Nathan.” Phaedra said coldly. “We’re all modern monsters, after all. Now if you’ll all excuse me, I have to go strangle some puppies, or whatever it is that we monsters do.”

Evelina cringed as Phaedra stormed away. She waited for the door to slam, but Phaedra preferred to leave it open. That way someone else would have to get up and close it.

“And you say that I have a death wish.” Ileana sighed, starting after her. Valaria caught her arm, shaking her head. Instead, she went out after the queen. Why Valaria thought she’d be a better candidate to deal with her, no one knew.

They didn’t see the two women for thirty-seven hours. When they returned everyone could sense a shift in the air. No matter though. Let’s go back a bit to #1.

The One Where Ileana’s Hoverboard Almost Kills Her

Who cares about chronological order? Pff... let’s mix it up a bit.

They were just weeks into it, and Ileana had already taken a liking to at least some of the group. Sure, Neal could be a bit of an ass, but he was loyal to a fault, and Ileana knew she could depend on him when things got  bit too hot for Annette, Evelina, and Nathan. The four of them were not who she was worried about.

The worry stood with the women with no last names. One did not care of anything. She had no morals, and at the end of the day, Valaria was all about self-preservation.

Also, she had a complete lack of faith in Phaedra. Ileana knew that if she were ever in a life-or-death situation, Phaedra would gladly watch her die.

Some people just wanted to see the world burn, and Phaedra and Valaria were just those people. In this case, maybe this wasn’t such a dreadful thing. Anyways, the point was that when the chips were down, Ileana knew that Valaria would ultimately choose her own life, and Phaedra would probably kill them all herself.

It was their first mission so everyone was still testing the waters. In the 28th century, Hoverboards were all the rage, and the main method of transportation. For them, this was ancient history. Both Evelina and Annette refused, point-blank, to use them. So they ran the show from the ground while the others got ready to take to the skies.

“Oh for gods’ sake! Hurry yourself.” Phaedra said impatiently.

“How are you ready already?” Valaria demanded, coming into the room and stopping dead. “We’re going into battle, not walking the red carpet, right?”

“Whoa.” Neal’s jaw dropped. “Why? What’s with the red lips and stilettos?”

“So I can kiss the forehead of the patriarchy as I crush it to the ground with my stiletto.” Phaedra responded.

“Now that’s a cause I can get behind.” Valaria commented.

“Ileana Abrams!” Phaedra shouted. “Nathan Shafer! If you aren’t both out here before I finish...”

“Alright, I’m-” Ileana stared at her. “How the hell are you expecting to stay on your board with those?”

“Well.” Nathan began.

“Hold it right there, pal.” Annette said. “Speak in a language we can understand.”

“Um, yeah. There’s this thing that prevents Newton’s laws of Motion from working so you can’t actually fall off.” Nathan said.

“There you have it.” Phaedra said. “Now let’s get a move on before the world ends without us.”

The five of them were off. Nathan hurriedly explained to them how to control the devices, and if it somehow stopped working to not do anything because you’d probably die. Well that last part was implied, but still.

“Alright, princess.” Phaedra said, after they’d all had ample practice time. “What’s your plan here?”

“We’re both leaders as I recall.”

“Have fun, and don’t die?” Phaedra wryly suggested. “In all honesty though, we really just need to take out these forces. Nothing else. So, gods I am so going to regret suggesting this. How about we just filet the bitches and wash our hands of the entire affair.”

“Sounds fun.” Valaria commented.

“Let’s roll then.” Ileana said, taking off.

I’ll spare you the monotonous details, and get straight to the good part.

Ileana was just flying around, minding her own business, and murdering enemies when a stray shot hit her board and the entire thing shook. To put it simply, the Laws of Motion were in full force and flying with the board was now officially impossible.

“Well hell.” Ileana yelled. Being stationary might very well have been a death sentence. She was a sitting duck.

Ileana had no clue where the men were. Her guess was that they had turned right at the crossroads. Last she saw, Phaedra and Valaria had been competing to see who could hit more targets. It’s not like they’d be any help anyway.

Right then the universe saw fit to prove her wrong. The two women sped past, nearly unbalancing Ileana in the process.

“The hell happened to you?” Valaria asked.

“Just though I’d stop and enjoy the view.” Ileana snapped. “The stupid thing malfunctioned. That’s what happened.”

“Well brilliant, just lovely.” Valaria sighed.

“Look out!” Phaedra yelled, darting forward to block Ileana. She cried out in pain, as a bullet impaled her hip.

“The fuck did you do that for?” Ileana demanded.

“I’m safe on my board. The impact would have knocked you off and to your death.” Phaedra explained. “Now don’t you dare yell at the injured party. She’s already in enough pain.”

While Ileana was distracted, Valaria pulled Ileana onto her working board and took the faulty one.

“Ileana, get Phaedra down to Annette. I’ll take this death trap back.” Valaria ordered.

And in that moment Ileana realized that she had horribly misjudged her partners in crime. They had literally done the opposite of what she thought they’d do. Then again, those two always were consistently inconsistent.

At any rate, like Queen Rowling said, there are some things you can’t do without at least forming some sort of bond. Apparently, rescuing princess from a broken vehicle was one of those things. Go figure.

Alas the time for levity is ending, my dears. The exact moment that the world would explode was fast approaching. Everything the seven of them had worked for was leading up to this moment. Not to be melodramatic or anything, but they literally held the world in their hands.

The time travel machine spat them out about five miles from the final destination. They were ever so close, but time was running out for everyone. Well I say everyone, but one of them in particular had even less time. And of course you all probably know who it is. Who but Phaedra?

After spending over a year with these idiots, Phaedra had drastically changed.  They all had.

Once utterly apathetic, Valaria had finally found a reason to care. Ileana had learned to play with others. Evelina was no longer blissfully ignorant of everything. In fact, the only one who had not changed was Annette. This was definitely a plus. They needed someone to be their sunshine and rainbows.

I’ll cut right to the moment where they realized they’d be short a member.

“This is it.” Ileana said. “Ready?”

“Not even a little bit.” Phaedra responded.

“There’s still time to...” Ileana began.

“Not a chance, princess.” Phaedra answered. She turned to Valaria. Phaedra started to take off her Paradox Protector Pendant, as they’d come to call it. “Take care of this, you’ll need it later.”

“Phaedra, what the hell?” Valaria snapped. “Put that thing back on right now.”

“You’re going to need this in the future, and I hate to tell you this, but I may not be with you much longer.”

“What are you on about?” Annette asked.

“We don’t have time, so here’s the basic version. Ileana and I knew right from the start that one of the seven of us would have to willingly jump into a chasm and potentially blow themselves up. I volunteered.”

“When was this decided?” Neal asked.

“Oh, while I was busy rescuing Ileana from the skies.” Phaedra said.

“Wait just one minute.” Ileana protested. “Princess though I may be, I am no damsel in distress.”

“Trust me when I say that you are anything but.” Phaedra said. “Now take this and when you hear a loud boom, run. Just run. Don’t wait for me because you simply don’t have the time. Also there’s no telling whether I’ll survive or not.”

“Well you certainly won’t if you take the pendant off.” Evelina said anxiously. “Please don’t do that.”

“Nathan explain.” Phaedra ordered, approaching the chasm.

“Phaedra, do not die.” Valaria warned.

“Or what? You’ll kill me?” Phaedra smirked. “Goodbye darlings.” And with that, she jumped.

The rest of them surged forwards, but Phaedra had seemingly vanished.

Valaria couldn’t explain the reason for the imminent sense of dread she felt. She shouldn’t be so terrified. If anyone of them could manage to blow shit up, and scale a cliff, it was Phaedra. Besides, it wasn’t the end of the world... sort of.

Phaedra was the most infuriatingly smug, downright cruel, amazing, pretty... oh no, oh no, no no, no! This was not happening. Not now, not ever. There was absolutely no bloody way that she had developed a ‘crush’ on her royal highness. That would be the ultimate cliché. Her story did not need a tragically doomed love story. Besides, she knew the game very well. Women like her didn’t get happy endings. It was absolutely preposterous that she would have such feelings.

“Damn it all to hell.” Valaria exclaimed.

“Valaria, are you okay?” Evelina asked, reaching out a hand.

“No!” Valaria stormed over to the cliff. “Where the hell is she?”

“She doesn’t have much time.” Nathan paced. “Once she takes it off, she only has a small window of time before time catches up to her.”

“Well that settles it.” Valaria said, taking off her own Paradox Protector Pendant, and tossing it to Nathan. “I’m going after her.”

“Valaria, you can’t” Evelina protested.

“Don’t follow.” Valaria ordered, jumping into the death pit. The fall wasn’t nearly as terrifying as she had expected. Nevertheless, she wouldn’t be doing this again anytime soon.

Valaria was ever so slightly shocked that she didn’t die on impact when she landed. Apparently something was keeping that from happening. Nathan would know, but she didn’t really care.

It wasn’t hard to figure out which way Phaedra went. Al she had to do was follow the destruction. Now was not the time to dally. Valaria raced down the long hallways, hurdling over corpses, and hazardous pools of blood.

When she finally did locate Phaedra, her heart nearly stopped. They had caught her. (They meaning the enemies they had to blow up in order to get into the special room of destruction.) Valaria could tell that she was fading fast. She had spent far too long without anything to protect her, and it was draining her life force.

Valaria didn’t even ask questions. She shot the three other beings in the room, and raced forward to catch the small woman.

“You cannot follow directions can you?” Phaedra muttered.

“Just put this thing back on!” Valaria snapped, shoving the pendant at her. The pendant had the innate ability to revive anyone almost instantly. How convenient.

They both hurried into the final stage.

“Put the chip into that slot.” Phaedra said, handing it to Valaria. After that it was smooth sailing. Just like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire, and you’re on fire, and everything is on fire. Yeah, it wasn’t fun. Somehow they made it far enough away that they weren’t in any imminent danger. Of course, now they had to climb back up. Or not.

Ileana swooped down on a working Hoverboard.

“Now who has to be rescued?” She gloated.

“Take Valaria, and get her the pendant right now.” Phaedra ordered. “I’m climbing whether you want me to or not.” Ileana rolled her eyes, but knew not to question it.

So they were all there in the end. There was some insane obstacle course, death trap thing that they had to get through to get to the detonator. Really quite boring. They only almost died thirty-seven times. No big deal.

The last room was... actually exactly what they expected. It was just a simple room with the very large, and very much armed bomb.

“So...” Nathan began.

“What exactly do we do?” Ileana asked.

“You don’t know?” Annette asked, turning to her.

“No one knows what to do. It’s just a roll of the dice.” Phaedra said, examining the thing. “Oh... oh no.”

“What?” Neal asked. Phaedra beckoned to them. Simultaneously they all realized exactly what the issue was.

They were never meant to survive this mission, and the higher ups knew it. Leaving the destruction of the world up to seven people would give them far too much power. They were meant to destroy the world with their lives. The Osterhagen key was not some sort of complex riddle, or code. It was their pendants. There were slots for each, and once the final one was placed, they would supposedly be transported out. However, not a single one of them believed for a second that they were going somewhere safe.

“What do we do?” Evelina asked, helplessly.

“We... Nathan, where did you go?” Ileana asked looking around.

“I knew that something was up when they approached me with the idea of the pendants, so I made duplicates.” Nathan said, holding up another set. “Be careful. The pendants are flesh memories. Whoever touches them first is locked in. Everyone take your color.”

“Nathan, I could kiss you right about now.” Evelina beamed at him.

“Speaking of kissing...” Neal side-eyed Ileana.

“Time and a place.” Ileana said, rolling her eyes. “We’re about to blow the world up. Besides, you’d have to ask buy me dinner first.”

“Dinner then?” Neal asked.

“Of for god’s sake...” Ileana pushed past him. At the last second she turned. “Ask me again when we’re not three feet from a bomb.”

“But will you say yes?” Neal asked.

“Maybe.” Ileana answered, smirking.

“Called it.” Annette gloated. “Fork it up.” Apparently they had a bet between her, Nathan, and Evelina to see who would get together first. It was either Ileana and Neal, or Phaedra and Valaria.

“As soon as we all put the gems in, it’ll transport us away. Now we all know that it’s going to take us directly to a place where we’ll probably be used for target practice so I hacked the system a bit.” Nathan said. “This’ll transport us all to different random points in time. It’ll be harder for them to find us if we’re spread out. So, Ileana, you and Neal can go off together if you’d like. Phaedra and Valaria too.”

“Wait what?” Phaedra blinked.

“Dinner?” Valaria asked. They were looking at each other with intensity usually reserved for bomb diffusion. Vaguely ironic, all things considered.

“Sure. Now can we please cause some destruction? I’m feeling way too sappy right now.”

“Are you sure this could work?” Evelina asked.

“Of course I’m sure. One-hundred percent, okay sixty-five. Maybe forty. The other sixty percent says that we’ll probably die. It’s a good plan though!” Nathan insisted.

This was not going to end well at all.

They had done it. The world had been overrun by aliens who were determined to eradicate the human race. Their mission was to go back in time and make sure that history had run its course. But their mission was not to prevent the inevitable destruction of humanity. Their mission was to ensure it happened. It was a success. The world had ended, and they were safe.

The End

Except no, not at all. Oh please, you thought I’d get through this without causing some sort of major crisis? Oh no, that would be far too easy. When the leaders of the last human resistance called for the end of the world, they were far, far, away. Safe in their towers, and passing around the champagne.

Phaedra and Valaria were hiding in 20th century Europe, and silently cursing their luck. Patriarchy, World War II, and constant fear of persecution were not what they had in mind. They had just come back home for the night when they saw an armed soldier with weapons that were most definitely not part of the time period.

Phaedra put out an arm, and drew them back into the shadows. They waited until he had passed by, before hurrying inside. They had been found.

“Pack a bag, darling.” Phaedra said, getting out the old weapons and gratefully donning pants again. “If they’ve found us, they can’t be far from the others. You get Annette, and Nathan, I’ll get Evelina. The transporter will know where they are. We’ll meet at Ileana and Neal.”

They got the first three with little issue. It was the last two that posed a problem. They had been found before a warning could be issued. So naturally the rest of them beamed in right in the middle of a warzone. Just great. They might as well have handed themselves over.

“Nice to see you again.” Ileana said, ducking.

“Hello, princess.” Phaedra grinned. “I’ve missed this. Look out!”

Rather than stay to the bitter end, they all simply transported out. However, this time hiding for so long would not be possible. They could only keep running from time to time. It was an exhausting situation. Well at least they got to see history. They now knew that 17th century France did not take kindly to spontaneous combustion. Also they may or may not have caused a revolution, but oh well...

Oh, and you know what Phaedra said about the burning of the Library of Alexandria... yeah. In Neal’s defense, he did have several guns pointed at his head. Starting a small fire was a small price to pay. Besides, it’s not like he caused the burning, just a burning... still Ileana wouldn’t speak to him for weeks after that incident, and Phaedra had nearly murdered him herself.

Then there was that time when they had to leave 24th century Norway. Not because they had been found, but because they may or may not have offended the wrong person. It was all in good fun! At least that’s what Valaria had claimed. Ileana couldn’t decide if that was idiotic, suicidal, or genius. Phaedra wanted to know why it wasn’t all three.

At any rate, this constant hopping around was a great deal more interesting than what they had previously done, but infinitely more exhausting and stressful.

They had survived multiple wars, and the total destruction of the earth. Everyone was just so tired that they finally realized that they had to raise the white flag.

It was so simple in the end. The lot of them just transported into the middle of the ship that held the leaders. Guns were pointed at them from all angles, but they were not going to shoot their way out of this one for once in their lives.

Evelina was the designated speaker. The others said it was because her voice was the most calming, but mostly it was because she was the only one not liable to start WW IX. Though, history seems to indicate the opposite.

“We just want to talk.” Evelina said calmly. “Please. We’re not armed, and we can’t transport out. We’re no threat to anyone.”

“And what is it that you want?” A woman asked, stepping out in front.

“Oh not you!” Phaedra groaned. “I was so hoping that you had been killed.”

“Phaedra!” Valaria hissed. “Keep it to yourself!”

“And why should we listen to you when you have killed some of our best people?”

“In our defense, they did try to kill us first.” Ileana said.

“Never mind that now.” Evelina interrupted. “We want to come up with some sort of truce or something. Anything really.”

“Well it’s not like we can let people like you run amok in history.” The woman said, turning away. “You destroyed earth. You think that we can let you get away with that?”

“It was your plan in the first place. You all hired us to do the damn thing.” Valaria spoke up.

“You have no proof.” She said.

“Oh come on. That’s just cheating.” Phaedra complained.

“Look, that doesn’t matter. All we ask is that you allow us to live in peace somewhere. You could exile us to some remote planet in a galaxy far, far away for all we care. We just want to stop fighting.” Evelina pleaded, trying to stay diplomatic.

It was a hopeless task Evelina had been dealt and she knew it. There was no way in hell that these power-hungry would let seven rogue fighters, doctors, and scientists roam the earth. They were too strong, and could not be allowed to continue.

Perhaps it was only right. All seven of them were dealing with the strain of having completely annihilated the entire planet, and probably a few others as well. So many had died, and that wasn’t something that was easy to live with.

It was a gamble as to whether or not they’d be jailed, or just killed where they stood. Judging by the way the woman was looking at Phaedra, it was probably going to be the latter. There did not seem to be good history right there. It was probably better to just forget it. Unless of course they wanted to ensure their death.

“Please.” Evelina said, making one last halfhearted effort.

“Take them into a room and kill them one at a time.” The woman said, leaving. “Oh, and make sure you don’t make too much of a mess. But make them scream. I do so enjoy the screaming.”

And so, that was the final word on the matter. One by one, the seven of them were massacred, until not a single soul remained. The corpses were disposed of, and no one ever heard of them again.

Far away, a dark haired woman watched the screen with fascination. As the final shot rang out, she turned away. Just visible under her shirt was a midnight blue pendant. Do with than information as you will.

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