Fall of Earth
In the year 2152, the planet Earth was falling apart. Mankind had continued their abuse of the planet, and it was finally beginning to show. The entire planet began breaking down, and nearly all green and natural things had passed away. Entire ecosystems passed into history, and soon the planet would be bear of everything save the human corruption. Amazingly, very few humans were informed of the destruction, and even fewer cared about it. The Doctor, whose true name was Nikola Aurelius, was among the first to discover what was happening to Earth. And he even managed to bring it to the attention of the rulers of the nation. They laughed, called him a radical, and sent him away. The Earth would turn on as it had for millennium, they had claimed, and his proposal on a new science, dubbed “Planogenics,” was nothing more than the mad rabbling of a scientist. The concept that the Earth had a living life force, and could be harmed, was ridiculous, and had no chance of ever being true.
Cursing under his breath, Dr. Nikola returned to his home, and there began an insane project, under the urging of his best and brightest student, Alaric Rahl. Alaric was a young man, early in his twenties. He was tall, reaching a height of around 1.7 meters. He was set with wide shoulders, and weighed in at around 83 kilograms. Unlike the current generation, who grew up in computers and programming safely in the city, Alaric was raised in the mountains, or what was left of them. He understood how to track, use a bow, and even knew a little about how to read weather. It was very unusual, and when Alaric finally came out of his isolation, and in to the cities, the government jumped at the chance to have him work for them. They sent him to school, where he graduated with the highest marks in his class, learning the history and modern sciences, in attempt to prepare him as a scientist. While they failed to admit to planogenics, even the government recognized that something was going wrong, and that interstellar colonization might be in their best interests. When he finished his schooling at nineteen, he was enrolled in the military. He was to be trained as a Star Ranger, one of the few sent to discover and bring information back about distant planets. Very few had been found, fewer which were inhabitable. Alone and in far off space, rangers generally had to rely on their own intelligence more than anything else, and very few ever returned. Most landed on planets that seemed to be hospitable, but were then lost to weather, predation, or other happenings. It was a rare thing for a Star Ranger to make it back to Earth at all, and none had ever returned with good tidings. It was a waste most thought, but it did bring information about the galaxy and those beyond. World were out their similar to Earth, and the government planned to find them.
It was then that Alaric left the home of his psuedofather, Dr. Aurelius, and left to begin training. Unbeknownst to the government, Alaric had been The Doctor’s greatest student, and had other plans in visiting other planets. Aurelius knew that he was right, and Alaric was his best hope in restoring the planet. He had hunches that things on Earth were going to get rough, but he did not know how rough or how quickly it would happen. As his student left for the Orbital, a large space station that orbited Earth, he began construction on the plan for salvation. He started creating his own city, a self-sufficient biome, protected by the largest defensive energy system ever created. If it worked, Dr. Aurelius would manage to keep a sustainable portion of the human race protected until Alaric could return.
“You know, I’m only doing this for you.” the young student said to his teacher. “The government is interested in colonization and recreating their precious society somewhere not falling apart, not in saving the current earth.”
“I know, but you must trust me. This is our best hope, and maybe our only hope.” Staring at his student, Doctor placed a single finger on his friend’s chest, and spoke softly. “I want you to go back to that cave before you leave. This crystal is special, and you are the only person who has seen it in its entirety. I believe it is tied to Earth’s life force, and I also believe it’s not a coincidence that you found it.”
Alaric knew well the rare and strange cave he referred to. Buried deep in what was the last true forest of the world, seemingly protected by the environment itself, the mouth to a deep cave was located. The deepest Alaric had ever been to, that’s for sure. Down inside, after intense spelunking and rappelling, he had found a perfectly circular cave, and at the very center, a large domed crystal. The crystal was easily fifteen feet across, and was perfectly symmetrical. Only the top portion was exposed, and it seemed utterly unbreakable. Every attempts to analysis it had failed, as all technology brought near it seemed to fail.
“You know that cave makes me nervous. I don’t want to have a repeat of the last time.” He looked his teacher in the eyes, and saw the pain his words had caused, and the confliction of what needed to be done, and what it might cause.
“I know that as well Alaric, but you know you are like a son to me. I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. Last time you went to that cave, the planet gave the biggest surge of life energy it has given in the past five years. You and that crystal have a connection. It might be a long shot, but I believe it’s worth it.”
On his second trip to the cave, he had known the way a little better, and made the trip in one day. During the hour in the cave, he noticed that the crystal had almost warmed, growing from a dull grey to a slight red glow. The stranger thing had been when he touched it. It blazed suddenly, red and pulsing, like the sun. Alarmed, Alaric had left immediately, not waiting to see if the crystal decided to react anymore. He was back at the city by morning, and had no interest in talking about what happened there with anyone but Nikola.
Hours later, with bags packed, Alaric slowly makes his way to the energy field. Nikola is beside him, explain new technology and how he thinks this new device will be able to find pass the crystal’s disruption field. Of course Alaric listens, but in his mind he’s always preferred good human thought than the observations of some machine. But he agrees to try his best, and using his pass, opens a hole in the energy field. Nikola closes it behind him, and shouts out, “I have a tracer on you. You’re expected for your Ranger training in four days, please don’t get lost.” Rolling his eyes, Alaric starts off in to his world, where strength of body and mind matters more than what to eat for dinner.
As he trekked his way through the beautiful scenery, he made quick time. He left the buzz of ten energy field far behind him, and continued on well in to the morning without stopping. More than eager to leave the world behind, and go into what everyone else called wilderness, but what he called home. He always felt free, and in control. By a stretch, he felt like he belonged. Dr. Nikola was his best friend, and had a sense of planogenics like himself, but even Nikola wasn’t aware of the full truth about the planet. It was more than just calculations and saving the human race from itself. It was about the beauty of what Alaric found out in the wild. Towering mountains, which he knew by the height, no man had ever climbed. He wondered how people could destroy such things, but it had happened to the entire world. It sickened him to the core, and he wondered how the big wigs at the government office couldn’t see his contempt. They alone had killed this world, and if it wasn’t for the people like Aurelius, Alaric wouldn’t even consider trying to save them. He struggled to get ahold of his anger, and remain calm. Out here, losing control and not paying attention would get him killed. He pulled his hood up, and continued on his way. It was going to be a long day.
As the day passed and moved towards evening, Alaric finally stood at the mouth of the cave. He looked down, and couldn’t even begin to see the bottom. He knew that it was nearly four hundred meters straight, until an underground river took up the cave. He knelt down, and shrugged his backpack off. Rummaging through, he quickly found the cave light he needed. Cracking the neon stick on his knee, he tossed it down the gaping hole. He removed his jacket, revealing his climbing gear beneath, hooked up to the tie that was in place from the last two trips. Hooked up, he tossed his rope down the hole, and let go. As he rappelled backwards, the light from above quickly disappeared, yet it didn’t bother Alaric at all. He simply slid his glasses down to rest across his eyes, and blinked as the sonic vision kicked in. Out of all of Aurelius’ crazy invention, this had to be one of his favorites. Using a sonic emitter on low frequency like bats, the glasses could let you see perfectly in any light setting, though the images were black and white general. It was a stroke of pure genius, though the design was denied by the military. It was amazing how many gadgets the Doctor came up with, but nobody seemed to see the potential behind them. Alaric definitely didn’t mind, as he had some of the coolest toys to play with.
He descended the cave quickly, landing in a quick crouch as his feet hit the shallow river below. He disconnected his rope, and look bout upstream and downstream, flipping his glasses from sonic to thermal at command. The cave was as empty as always, though thermals seemed to be a little brighter than usual. Chalking it up to his imagination, Alaric continued downstream, moving quickly from rock to rock, enjoying the speed as his boots gripped the slippery rock like it was sandpaper. He felt free, and for the first time since the last trip, found himself smiling. It was a rare occasion, and he enjoyed it. He reached the bottom of the river within the hour, his fastest time yet. Out of breath and hungry, Alaric sat down on the edge of the waterfall that dropped off into an endless abyss. He had tried rappelling it once, and after five hundred meters, decided it wasn’t worth it. Making a mental note to ask Aurelius about it when he got back, Alaric opened his bag, and began chowing down on some hot rice and chicken. He preferred real meals to the rations the government gave him, and planned on enjoying them every time he could. Eating quickly, he stood up at what he had named “The Edge of the World”. Out of curiosity, he took out another neon glow stick, and tossed it out until the abyss. It took nearly two minutes for the glow to disappear, and even thermals couldn’t see to entire way down. Sighing, he turned around and raced back up the stream to the opening of the cave. He started in slowly, and realized now that thermals had been picking up a heat signature, and it was coming from the orb. This was interesting; it had never shown any signs of heat before. He took a few pictures with the thermal cameras, and then removed the glasses. Taking out various instruments, he turned to the crystal, measuring its approximate size, and attempting to get electronic readings. Nothing worked, as was to be expected. Though it was curious the glasses still worked. That was certainly strange, but not overly out of the question. Checking his watch, Alaric sat down in front of the orb. He starred at it for some long time, intently noting every detail. Unlike the last few times, the orb, along with the entire room, seemed to emit light, though from where he couldn’t tell. The crystal seemed to be on fire, with light dancing just under its surface. He sat mesmerized by the light, and lost all track of everything. He began seeing the light as an ocean, and began tracing its paths before the light made it there. He jumped when he looked down at his watch, amazed that nearly four hours had passed. He was stunned for a few moments, before he realized he shouldn’t go back out to the city in dark. He still had plenty of time before the government came to collect him, and saw no reason to rush. Setting up his sleeping bag and dinner, he watched the crystal closely, getting a strange feeling. It wasn’t a bad notion; just something seemed to be off. Judging it just to be his nerves, Alaric shrugged it off, and settled down for the night.
Waking quickly, he wrapped his hand around the handle of his long hunting knife. Unsure of what had made him wake; he took a quick inventory of the surroundings. Nothing seemed to have changed, and he was still alone in the cave. He stood slowly, turning a full circle until freezing in place. Staring at the crystal, he realized it was looking back at him. This is insane. Crystals aren’t alive, and they can’t look at people either. Yet for all of his thinking this couldn’t happen, a huge eye was looking back at him through the crystal. Moving slowly to the right, he watched scared as the eye followed him. It was watching him that was for sure. But for some reason, Alaric got the feeling it meant no harm. Before he knew what he was doing, his feet were carrying him towards the crystal. He saw his hand reaching out for the crystal seemingly of its own accord, and felt the heat from the crystal as his fingers touched the edge. His eyes widen as he felt a sudden surge of energy, and as he pulled his hand away, the world seemed to blacken suddenly. As he slipped unconscious, he saw a piece of the crystal in his hand..
Alaric awoke with a start, and sat up, taking in his surroundings. Amazingly, he was the bed in his room, the room Dr. Nikola had given him to stay in. He felt light headed, and saw an IV in his left arm, and as he took inventory of the rest of the body, noticed the crystal that had been placed in a necklace, around his own neck. He sat up, and grabbed the bed railing for support, the world spinning. He didn’t know if he could trust his own voice, so he pressed one of the buttons on his bed, and summoned house-keeping. The Doctor rushed in instead, and in his usual attire of a lab coat and jeans. He was a tall man, taller than Alaric, but skinny, with lanky limbs and long scruffy hair. He had a rounder face also, making him look more civilized than his student, whose face had sharp angles, and high cheek bones. Though currently, his brow has pressed downward heavily with worry. He picks up a tablet from the bed, and begins looking it over.
“Vitals are good… No internal trauma. It seems to me that you sustained no damage at all. It is utterly amazing.” Alaric look stunned, as if he had just been told that someone had sighted a wild animal.
“Um, Doctor, what in the hell are you talking about?” The Doctor ignored his question, and busied himself checking the IV, changing some fluids, and taking a flashlight to his eyes, checking for signs of concussion. Alaric swatted his hand away, and responded, “You’re really starting to freak me out. What happened?”
“We found you on the perimeter of the protection field two nights ago. You were in a trance like state, and collapsed to the ground when we found you. One minute, your tracer was hidden by the cave, next moment you’re wandering outside our perimeter. What all do you remember, and where did you get that crystal?”
“I stayed in the cave. It was too dangerous a trek to take in the dark alone, and the cave seemed safe enough. I set up the usual fire and everything, and was asleep quickly. I woke halfway through the night, with the insane feeling that I was being watched. And I was.”
As Alaric finished his sentence, a woman strode into the room, and took up besides the Doctor, and whispered something in his ear. He didn’t recognize her, but he knew she must be someone important if she was directly consulting with Aurelius. The Doctor must have caught his confused look, and spoke up.
“Alaric, this is my new apprentice, Ashlee Rains. Ashlee, this is Alaric Rahl. He’s the one who’s meant to be the next Space Ranger, and the government’s probably looking for him right now. She came to us the night you left us, and has been quite helpful in monitoring your health as I try to explain to the government where their precious pet disappeared.”
“I am NOT their pet” Alaric growled, “And I was doing research for the Doctor, isn’t that the usual excuse?”
“That doesn’t work when you disappear from all of their technology. You even managed to disappear from mine. That cave has really got me worried. But alas, where are your manners boys? Say hello to the pretty lady!”
Ashlee blushed, but Alaric offered his hand, and shook hers. “Pleased to meet you, ma’am. I’m not sure if I should congratulate you for your success in being chosen as his next apprentice, or apologizing. But thank you for your help.”
Taking the tablet from Nikola, and looking over it, she looked back at Alaric. “You should count yourself lucky. I’m not sure what happened, but it fried your brain pretty well. No permanent damage, of course, but I wouldn’t suggest doing it again.”
As she talked Alaric took in the full sight of her. She was tall, for a woman, and seemed very athletic. With the long blonde hair, she would be considered rare. The blonde trait had been dying out for some time, and it was thought it would be gone soon. She seemed not to notice, but of course, nothing escaped Nikola’s view. He raised a quick eyebrow at Alaric, and then turned to Ashlee.
“My dear, would you be so kind as to make sure that all of Mr. Rahl’s things is ready to go, he’ll be wanted at the port before long.”
“Of course, Dr. Aurelius. Alaric, it was nice to finally meet you.”
She walked from the room, smiling at the student and teacher as she left. As soon as the door shut, Nikola began laughing. “It seems my two students might have an interest in each other.”
Against his will, Alaric found himself blushing. “You know I don’t have the time for females. Most aren’t worth the time, either.” As the words left his mouth, he smiled as his old friend rolled his eyes.
“About what happened in the cave. Do not tell anyone. And I mean anyone; I don’t care if President Ib is asking the questions. I’m not going to pry you as to what happened, as you don’t have the time right now to fill me in. But keep that crystal hidden from everyone, and make sure you impress them. I got some scary readings last night, and along with the pictures you took, it is imperative you pass through trainings as soon as possible. As soon as you’re ready and feel well, I’m sending you to the port.”
Alaric smiled, and swung himself out of bed, feeling stronger than ever. He look to the crazy Doctor, and simply asked “Where’s my stuff?”