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[Fiction] Endeavor - Futures


kestrel404

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The plans in her mind burn with the crystal clarity that always accompanies perfection. The object taking final shape in her lab has been tested in parts and in simulation as thoroughly as she could manage with the available equipment. Despite the possible dangers inherent in playing with time, she is sure this will work as planned. All of the variables have been taken into account, every known factor has been checked. A simple test run is all that's needed to be sure that everything is working.

And still Sakurako is worried. Messing with the time stream is a serious matter. Even if the temporal stabilizer works perfectly. Even if the dimensional regulator maintains present integrity. Even if the whole contraption works perfectly, you never know what's going to happen.

Which is why she built this prototype to be a purely passive viewing instrument, she reminds herself for the nth+1 time. And it is only set to show her her own lifetime, glimpses of her own future. No harm in that, right? Other novas do it all the time.

Putting the last bit in place, she flips the power switch and watches as it runs through the initialization diagnostics. Green lights fill the indicator panel. A musical chime sounds as the final checks pass. Nothing is stopping her from starting the first trial run right now. So, before she has a chance to worry herself out of doing this, she presses the start button...

There is a sensation of acceleration, but no physical body to attach it to. Her sense of self is focused on a single point of perception, but without the conscious ability to move. She made a note to add in a personal reference point for the next trial of the system. After a moment of disorientation, she receives her first glimpse of her own future...

A flash of light, and then she's there. She sees herself unchanged, except that she's wearing a suit and sits on a witness stand in a front of a courtroom. Someone is asking her questions about the 'defendant'. The judge scowls down at her, the jury stirs impatiently, and the prosecutor is repeating himself angrily, raising his voice to the intimidated Sakurako. "Did the defendant seem to be unable to control his own actions? Was he out of control, or was this deliberate?"

From behind her own viewpoint, she can hear the rustle of feathers and Totem's angry voice. "That's enough! Stop yelling at her, you stupid monkey!"

A feeling of acceleration and another flash of light. The scene is changed completely. She now sees herself lying on the floor. One arm is twisted in the wrong direction, another has deep cuts. She is struggling to stand and there's a look of desperation in her eyes. Beyond her, Ronin fights two dozen identical novas. That must be DeathSquad. Even as he cuts them down, more appear. They attack him in waves and individually, leaping at him, occasionally getting past his blazing sword to deal a bit of damage in return for their own gratuitous deaths.

Then one appears next to the struggling Endeavor, lifts her, and heaves her at Ronin's exposed back. Smoothly, he turns and slices the incoming missile in half. Then, as the look of shock begins the register on his face, and the look of mad glee spreads across the faces of the replicating nova...

Another flash. She thinks they're getting brighter.

Sakurako is in a crowd of novas on a karaoke stage. She recognizes her friend Codex, who's recently grown wings are being used to hold both Singularity and Endeavor in a hug while they sing. Alongside them is a riveted metal man, a giant tiger, a blue haired boy who's body crawls with lightning, and in the background is Totem, standing on his hind legs with his wings spread, literally filling the stage. Together, they're belting out, "We are the Champions!", to a crowd of roaring Japanese fans.

A flash, and a new scene. Endeavor is wearing her old 'fuku' style uniform, slightly updated and a bit more modern looking. She's flying alongside half a dozen novas, most of whom she recognizes from Nippontai. The leader calls back to her in Japanese over the howling winds, "Come on Endeavor. Let's see how you do in a real fight."

They're approaching an office building in Tokyo, and there's smoke rising from broken windows on the upper level.

A flash, a now familiar acceleration. Endeavor begins to wonder how long this is going to go. Subjectively, it's only been a few seconds. Objectively she has no idea. More to look into once this test was finished.

The scene unfolding before her is the deck of a Japanese-marked supercarrier ship. The ship design is something Sakurako approves of, even as she sees herself standing on the bridge of the ship, directing the advanced aircraft landing there. The captain of the ship confers with her briefly before giving orders. The ship begins to break apart as she watches, but along logical and pre-defined lines. It is the beginning of some form of transformation...

A flash. The visions are getting shorter.

Endeavor is standing alone in the midst of half a dozen of the replicating novas from an earlier vision. She is bleeding through power armor and cradling a crushed fore-arm. The copies behind her hold her as the ones in front begin tearing off the armor.

A flash, and more acceleration.

Endeavor is in her lab working on a new suit of power armor. It's larger than her old one and looks much more dangerous, even half-finished.

A flash, and the feeling of acceleration hasn't stopped from the last flash.

Endeavor is standing on the floor of the United Nations assembly hall in Geneva, wearing her best business outfit. She looks worried, and tired, and more than a little disappointed. In front of her, the speaker is saying, "...and despite protests that this will lead to further conflict, this council finds no other alternative than to declare war on the terrorist nova movement known as the Teragen."

Flash. Endeavor begins to worry about the accelerating feeling. At first, it seemed natural that she feel movement while travelling through time. Now, she begins to feel like she's 'falling' towards something.

Flash. Definitely brighter, and the flashes are definitely getting shorter.

She sees herself standing in a field of dull red grass and bright pink flowers. Above her, two suns, one green the other yellow. She is wearing sturdy looking clothes that blend well with the surroundings and in her arms is cradled a newborn child. Behind her, Ronin is working in a patch of cleared dirt, planting seeds by scattering them into a plowed field. Several robotic servants stand around watching as Endeavor laughs.

Flash.

Her sterile white lab coat swirls around her, as she laughs maniacally. The red glow of her robot servants' eyes and the giant computer monitor behind her are the only lighting. The screen shows a map of the world with the overlayed red letters, "World domination", and a countdown running from 10 underneath.

Flash.

A giant pink robot with Endeavor riding in the cockpit exchanges fire with commandos dressed in the mottled black and grey of Urban elite forces, though each one prominently displays the Project Utopia icon on their helmet and shoulder. The buildings nearby are damaged or ruined, but the heart of Manhattan is still clearly recognizable.

Flash.

Endeavor dressed in light armor with paired 'energy katanas' strapped to her back is held tightly by a giant walking tiger. At their feet, Ronin's body is riddled with holes and cuts, one placed dead center in his forehead, lies in a pool of blood. Around them, the chaos and devastation of a battlefield is obvious. Sakurako sobs quietly into the tiger's shoulder.

Flash.

Endeavor, wearing black power armor, signals a group of soldiers to charge the enemy with an obviously cybernetic right arm.

Flash

Endeavor leans into the controls of a highly sophisticated cockpit. Energy blasts fly past the swirling star field outside.

Flash. She's holding a gun one handed that's the size of a large dog, pointing it at a flaming nova.

Flash. A giant crystal of pink energy cracks and breaks apart, and a too-perfect creature emerges. Her figure is beautiful and covered in very delicate silver circuitry. Her head is a mass of pink energy, her body obscured as she moves by a distortion effect. Flash. Endeavor is wearing urban camouflage, a Utopian symbol on her shoulder and her black beret. She is ordering her troops to charge the giant green robot.

Flash.Flash.FLASH.FLASH...

The acceleration pauses, causing a nauseating sense of vertigo. There's a moment of crystal clarity as the acceleration stops, but only enough to see her own face. It's older, more mature, with the a very delicate tracery of silver, pulsing with pink energy. The eyes are wide open in horror and fascination, the look on her face one of a foreseen doom come to pass. And reflected in her eyes, Endeavor glimpses the end of the world, shaped like a dozen grey mushrooms on the horizon.

FLASHFlashFlashflashflash...the acceleration through time is over, but she doesn't feel like she's slowing down or stopping either. The flashes are getting dimmer, as is her consciousness. She can feel herself slipping away, and the world going black...

Slowly, consciousness returns. She opens her eyes to see herself sitting in a traditional Japanese tea house. It is small, and empty, with rice paper where windows should be. Her body (why should it feel strange to have a body? why does it feel like it was missing?), responds as groggily as her mind feels, but she manages to look at the room and herself. She is kneeling in the Japanese style, dressed in a very traditional looking light pink kimono. In front of her is a short table covered by a white silk cloth, holding a finely enameled stone jug with pink inlays, a lit jar candle scented like sandalwood, and a small stoneware bowl in front of the jug, covered in an ornate silk scarf.

The door opens and she is starts slightly. The woman who enters is herself, but not herself. Where her pink hair should be is a cascade of pink energy, flowing and rippling like a waterfall. She is far more beautiful than she really should be, and her form is slightly too perfect to be human. The tracery of silver that covers her exposed skin pulses rhythmically with pink energy. She is carrying a small tray with some artistic items laid out on them. "Hello, Sakurako. I am pleased you are awake."

"What...who are you?"

The older woman kneels across the table from Endeavor and begins laying out the utensils from her tray onto the table between them as she answers. A small pink ceramic cup, a bamboo whisk, a white cloth, and a bamboo scoop are all arranged properly for a tea ceremony. "That should be obvious, but I can see that you're still recovering. I am you, from one of your possible futures."

Endeavor sits up straighter and leans forward, eager to learn more. "Then, that wasn't a dream? How can you see me? What..."

The older Endeavor places a finger on her younger self's lips to silence her, and a tiny spark of pink electricity causes her younger self to jump slightly. She very carefully takes the fine silk cloth from the tea jar, and uses it to carefully clean the scoop and the lip of the jar. Her concentration is perfect, and neither speaks again until she is finished. "I am truly sorry that I cannot answer your questions. It is better that you learn for yourself. Know only that you are very far in the future indeed, and your device ran afoul of a calamity that spans the timelines."

The tea is measured, the water poured, the whisk used. All of the proper steps are taken. The older Endeavor turns the bowl once, and passes it to her younger self. As she does so, she says, "Remember. All you have seen is possible, but none of it is certain."

She bows as she accepts both the cup and the advice. She admires the clean lines of the fine pink ceramic cup, and then takes a drink. The world fades to black and there is a not-unpleasant falling sensation.

Endeavor starts slightly, coming out of her revery a moment after she presses the start button. The memories fade quickly, flowing out of her hyper intelligent mind like water through cupped fingers. She struggles to keep them all ordered, and she leans forward, putting her hand against the device that sent her mind forward in time. A tiny spark of pink electricity licks out, startling her. The green lights on the display panel change to yellow, then to red. Then they go out entirely, as smoke begins to waft from somewhere deep in the machine.

Much later, from the guts of the machine, Sakurako sighs. She remembers fragments from her trip, but a lot of the details were lost. The components of the machine were fried so thoroughly that she would be better building a new one from scratch than trying to fix this one. Plus, she had no idea why the first trip hadn't gone as planned.

"Oh well," she thinks to herself. "Maybe I'll stick to the present and let the prescient novas handle the future. Next time I'll just ask Walker or something. Hmm...I wonder what he's doing now?"

Leaving the future for later, Endeavor goes off to find an Opnet terminal.

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