Sense of Urgency
By Moonraker One
Beck flew along at incredible speed towards his destination. The feeling of flight under one's own power, he had never experienced something so thrilling before. He had to occasionally remind himself that his goal was saving his friend from harm, because the feeling he got was distracting. He quickly sobered up from the new discovery as thoughts turned to his friend. The long flight, though short, seemed much longer because of his worrying.
"How will I know what to do?" he asked.
You'll know what to do, the voice replied. I can't hold your hand. It then went silent.
"That's really helpful," he said, sarcastically.
In a matter of moments, his increased speed got him to the base. The images in his mind guided him there with much accuracy. The knowledge he'd gained from reading comic books taught him everything to do and not to do in combat; he hoped, though, that he could draw some wisdom of his own out instead of relying solely upon fiction. As he saw the vague outline of the place get bigger as he got closer, it hit him that if they had the ability to frequently frustrate Jeff by dodging him and being one step ahead, they probably already knew of his arrival. Silently, he cursed his luck as he descended in an attempt to break in. He saw not one, but several dozen people, each armed heavily, dead set on keeping him out. He extended his arms in front and plowed through as best he could.
Inside, Jeff struggled, vainly, against the binds. His body felt several different types of agony: every inch of him felt both pained as well as exhausted, and he found it harder to focus. The pool of liquid below and in front of him surged against itself. Parts of it wanted to turn golden while other parts were fighting to turn silver. The bouncing back and forth of one color or another drew almost constant attention from the watching magic users. "Amazing," one of them said, as he focused his magic on the pool. "Even now, his will is strong."
George rolled his eyes. "He's fighting inevitability," he reminded them. "We've tied his power to the pool; once the Nal Eterna overruns his power, he'll be powerless. We can then do what we must. Omnis Infinia will not stop until it has defeated its opposing power, but there's too much Nal Eterna here. That's why we picked this place, remember?"
"Go ahead and kill me," Jeff shouted. "You'll kill what? A fourteen year old boy? No! I'm an idea. Any time someone thinks about what's wrong with the world? Any time someone wants to change it? That's what I am. You'll only be killing a body." He laughed at them, trying to find solace in his strong words. "You kill me, and you'll end up inspiring lots of enemies."
One of the higher ranking members jabbed him with a staff. "You have all this power. What do you do? You keep it to yourself. There is a responsibility! Why were you given power if not to use it? We, on the other hand, once we get a hold of this power, all these horrors will come to an end. War, hunger, racism, you name it; it'll all be gone under our rule."
"That's the problem," Jeff said, arguing back. "You have to be in charge of the world in order to get rid of those things! You can't just leave well enough alone! I've stopped nuclear reactors from melting down, I've ended racial conflicts in Africa before, I've planted trees and irrigated crops in deserts. Have I ever asked for a dime? No. There've been times where I really wanted to, and times where people gave money to me, but I never told them what to do or dominated them in any way."
"And if you don't dominate them," Elizabeth countered, "they'll never stay in the better situation."
Jeff shouted in pain as their magic influenced the pool's state. He continued his struggle against the restraints. He would absorb the pain as best he could; the alternative could not be accepted. While the group worked on concentrating their magic on the pool, the sounds of struggle could be heard outside as well.
Beck, having plowed through a group of people meant to watch the front, landed in the entranceway to a dark cave. The moment he came close to the opening, a wall of energy blocked it. He attempted to break through, but only ended up being launched backwards. Shadows began popping up into bizarre, five foot tall creatures that moved incredibly swift and had ebony skin, like charcoal. With only silvery slits for eyes, they had quite a menacing appearance. Complete with nasty jaws, they charged him, ready to attempt to eat him. He reacted almost instantly.
Leaping above the crowd, he slammed downward at incredible velocity, throwing a group of them up and backwards. He utilized his eye beams to incinerate any for several dozen feet around him. As he spun around to target more, one jumped on his back and grappled his neck. He elbowed it, killing it instantly, but the momentary distraction allowed more to latch onto him. Spinning rapidly sent several of them flying, but a few of them were smart enough to hold on tight, allowing more to grab him. Their sharp teeth broke against his skin, but he knew their true purpose: to slow him down. Knowing that they were merely trying to hold him back as long as possible, he broke free of the group and slammed against the door once more. The multi-colored barrier attempted to launch him backwards, yet he struggled, trying his best to bend or break it. Within a few moments of pushing against the energy barrier, at least a hundred of the golem-like creatures grabbed his arms and pulled him backwards. His incredible strength allowed him to effectively ignore their efforts, but still they pulled. He would lose his footing if the ground slipped or the stone crumbled.
A sudden scent of charred flesh entered the air as a powerful burst of golden energy from skyward slammed against the stony ground and the entire group of golems were incinerated immediately. Beck felt part of his shirt burn from the energy as a figure came swooping down. She was a red-haired woman, garbed in a skirt business suit with a blue tie. "Don't try and break the barrier down," she advised. "It's magic, just like our powers; you have to fight it mentally."
He pressed his hands against the wall and focused on it as hard as he could. "Thanks for the tip," he said. "By the way, who are you? My name's Beck."
She smiled as she pressed against the energy wall. "Jessica Willa. Did a voice claiming to be one of Jeff's parents talk to you as well?"
He nodded. "In any other situation, this'd be very strange," he commented, noticing the barrier starting to fluctuate.
"It's Jeff," she said, laughing a bit. "Anything's possible anymore with him. I tried to kill him and he saved my life."
They cleared their mind and thought of the barrier falling. After having stood fast against the harshest blows he could muster, Beck stood mystified at the thing warping and buckling under mere thought. They both stood hard focused on their barricade. It wouldn't last much longer.
Inside the depths of the lair, several of the group's members noticed the situation. "They're almost through the door," the leader said, hastening his manipulation of magical spells.
"Damn it!" George said, shouting. He cursed the boy's ability to hang on for dear life. So far, his spells worked in tandem with the others, and yet, the child held as fast as ever. Despite seeing cracks in his will here and there, Jeff seemed as durable as ever, despite being in incredible pain. The pool churned in response to the war of the wills. Both parties pushed against the other with their very life. The loser would pay with such.
Jeff shook the very cave they were in with his jerking back and forth against the binds. Sweat poured off his brow as he endured pain unlike anything he'd ever felt before. His body literally felt like it burned, and a moment later, would feel fine, only to give way to the burning sensation again. Never before had he dealt with such misery. It felt like the opposing powers of the pool and his own were literally consciously fighting each other. As his pain continued, the feeling became closer to the truth to him: it felt less like his tissues were on fire, but rather, like the opposing force was trying to age him to dust and that his own energy was fighting to avoid it.
After several minutes of effort, the two warriors finally undid the force field preventing them from entering. They took to the cave at breakneck speed. Flying down the dimly lit passageways, the two stayed close to each other and kept focus on their goal. In a moment, they noticed something strange, however; as they moved onward, the entryway they had come through loomed in on them. They stood outside the cave once again, and stood confused.
"Somewhere down the cave is a portal that we obviously didn't notice," Beck said. "I have an idea."
"How do you think we'll get around it?" Jessica replied.
Beck looked at her. "They have to get to the center of the cave, don't they?"
"The portal has to be there, so all we have to do is know where it is. How are you going to do that?"
He waved her on, and they flew slowly down the tunnel. About a few feet in, he started firing energy from his eyes in a constant straight beam. It burned along the far wall as they rounded a corner. Once they got to a straight line, though, the end of the beam terminated after about six feet, rather than going all the way down the tunnel. A second later, the same beams came blasting up the tunnel in the opposing direction. He pointed down the tunnel. "We were going so fast, we didn't notice we'd been sent backwards. Look for a switch."
The seemingly invincible Jeff began to falter. There were, after all, several of them using magic and only one of him. His will began to break and he saw less and less of the golden color in the pool and more silver. Their power began to swell within them; somehow he could sense it. As the pain got worse, shocks began to travel through his body causing him to spasm. The binds that had begun to crack under his immense force would see little opposition once his strength began to fail.
"I found it!"
Jessica pushed a switch along the wall and the rest of the tunnel disappeared. The portal had provided an illusion. They followed a new path and used their eye beams to make sure the portal trick could not be used on them again. Sure enough, they circumvented at least three more portals before seeing a long tunnel with lights at the end of it. They flew onward at full speed.
Mira Elman looked up. "They've found us!"
"It's too late!" Elizabeth shouted.
The pool, almost entirely silver at this point, surged back and forth one final time. Both Beck and Jessica, panicked and, ignoring the rest of the group, went straight for Jeff. Each one pulling against one of his arm binds, they struggled for a few seconds, but the preexisting damage allowed them to break easily. They freed his leg bands with only slightly more effort before they broke too. Beck cradled Jeff in his arms. "Jeff, we're here! They're not going to do anything more to you," he said, trying to comfort him.
The boy lay motionless.
"Jeff, answer me!" His shouts were in vain.
"Jeff, you saved me after we fought," Jessica said, wiping his wet forehead. "Please! Don't die!"
Beck shook him a bit. "You've taken nuclear blasts before! You can't die! It's just not possible!"
"Only one thing can kill him," the leader of the group said. "And it's what we've spent quite some time acquiring access too."
Beck set the boy down on the ground. With a reddened face and tears rolling down, he charged the leader and delivered a powerful blow to the face. To his surprise, however, nothing much happened to him. An aura emerged around each of them, as silvery as the pool of liquid in the middle of the room. The group's leader grabbed Beck by the chin and hurtled him backwards, crashing through a stone pillar. "For everything," George explained, "there is an opposite. And just like matter and antimatter annihilating each other, Jeff's life force was neutralized by the opposing energy."
"It would appear the cavalry would need saving," joked one of the other members, clenching his fists.
"You bastards!" Jessica shouted, throwing herself with a vicious attack against two of the group. "What did he ever do to you?"
"He was my friend," Beck yelled, throwing one across the room just in time to be grappled by another. "And you fuckers have no right!"
"Jeff, wake up," a voice cried out.
"You've been out for quite some time," another replied.
Jeff came to after what seemed like an eternity. He stood up slowly, making sure not to fall. As he stood, he wiped his eyes. All he saw around him was white. The brightness faded quickly, leaving behind two people. Each one ornately garbed in a style of dress he'd never seen before. The man stood around six feet in height, was of average build and fair skin, and had brown hair down to his ears, not quite as long as Jeff's but the same style. He had relatively Germanic facial features, and green eyes. The woman, almost as tall as the man next to her, had long black hair. Her eyes were blood red and her olive colored skin shimmered. She had Spanish facial features and long, slender limbs. Their clothes looked like robes more than anything, and had symbols on them he could read despite having never seen before.
The man smiled sweetly. "Welcome home, son," he said, warmly outstretching his arms. "You've traveled far and experienced much."
Jeff shook his head; this struck him as being slightly out of place. As he looked past the two of them, he saw he was not in a familiar setting. He saw that they stood atop a high cliff on a mountain. Below was a valley and there were forests and clearings all around. Other people of various appearances and ages were scattered like little dots all over the place. Far off in the distance, sat a vast, blue ocean. He had scarcely seen such a serene location anywhere. Oddly enough, he felt, an odd sense of being complete. As if he'd been missing a piece of himself his whole life and here it was.
"Is this, another planet?" he asked. "Am I on an alien world?"
They both laughed. "Not in the sense that you are thinking of, no," the woman said, explaining. "This location has gone by many names by many different groups of people. Some call it 'The Source,' others call it 'Heaven' or 'Valhalla,' but in the end, we have never seen a reason to give it a specific name. The humans took to calling it Omnis Infinia, and the name stuck."
He almost choked. "Heaven?" he said, shrieking at first. "I'm dead?"
The man entered the conversation. "In a sense, yes, but you can't really stay dead."
The woman knelt to his level. "You're one of us; you can no sooner stay dead than could a sun be made out of water."
He asked an uneasy question. "Am I…a god?"
The man laughed again. "The humans call us many things, Givandu."
Jeff stammered at first. "Givandu?" Then it hit him. "Oh. Gi-van-du, Je-ff Va-ndo. I get it. So that's my name. Givandu? What does it mean?"
"Humans have names with preset meanings, son," the mother answered. "You are above meaning; your name can mean anything or nothing you want it to. We gave it to you. You decide."
He began to cry. "My real parents…!" He went to hug them and they stopped him.
"Human emotions won't express our true feelings for each other. Take my hand." The father then joined hands with his son. The mother took the other hand.
Surrender your physical form, their voices cried in his mind. You can return to it whenever you want; you don't need it right now. Frightened at first, Jeff voluntarily willed himself to return to his true essence. Moment by moment, his senses faded away. His sight blurred then failed completely; his sense of touch vanished, leaving him numb. Sounds silenced completely to him, and finally, all smells and tastes left him. After his skin vanished, and his tissues disappeared, he had been reduced to mere energy. The core of his self exposed to the Source, or Heaven, or whatever it could be called by human understanding. The location acted like a planet, although no laws of physics bound them. It was merely following their desire to behave that way. He began to experience things completely. Rather than be limited by the flesh, he could experience every aspect of whatever he encountered, from the very smallest scale to the grandest possible, with an infinite number of senses rather than the mere number provided by a body. His parents, as godlike as he, felt his happiness and sorrow, the full range of his emotions and memories all at once.
He also experienced the vast quantity of knowledge and emotions and feelings they had, truly knowing, in a way humans couldn't even express, just how they felt for him. Neither words nor human thoughts could possibly express their love for him, nor the sorrow that they felt watching him on Earth and not being there. He felt all of this, forgiving their temporary abandonment of him as he experienced the violent war that had taken place in this holiest of places, where gods fought with force beyond physics' ability to convey. The reason they hadn't come for him was that he had fallen to the mortal universe after unimaginable powers nearly ripped the realm in half. The opening had been sealed, but not before he had fallen to Earth, a god fallen from Heaven to live amongst mortals.
After experiencing all of this, as well as travelling the infinite distance of the heavenly realm and back again in the equivalent of a moment (since time had no meaning here) he coalesced back into his previous human shape. As his holy senses gave way to his human senses once again, suddenly every question he'd asked in life made sense. His parents coalesced back into their human shapes as well.
"Givandu," the father said, "the mortal universe has destroyed itself and been remade through events humans call 'big bangs' and 'big crunches' and life has evolved and died many times over, but you, my son, are the first time two of our kind ever decided to have a child through sexual reproduction like mortals do."
"Just remember," the mother added, "that you can come to us any time you like. It is easily within your power. And, if you want, you can change your mortal form at will."
"Oh no! I just remembered! Beck and Jessica! They might be in trouble!"
The father stopped him as he was about to run. "Time is irrelevant here. You can return to the physical universe the same moment you left."
He looked at them. "Just one final question before I go. If I am a god, how was I able to die?"
"Remember, I fathered you and your mother gave birth to you in the same manner as a human man and woman would," the father explained. "Although you are no less godly than we, we had never experienced this before. Your body behaved like a mortal's body and we hadn't had time to share with you the true essence of what we are. Therefore, when you left for the mortal universe, you only had a small amount of Omnis Infinia in you, and you hadn't had time to begin channeling godly energy. You're connected to your home now."
The mother hugged her son. "Remember, son, even gods can die; we just can't be destroyed. Those we have defeated in the war are confined to a different realm, but are not destroyed."
Jeff thought a minute. "Sorry about asking all these questions but, what is Nal Eterna?"
"Even though all of us got together and decided upon the rules by which reality would be governed, some things predate even us. Nal Eterna is the opposition to Omnis Infinia. Don't think of it as good versus evil, or even black versus white. It's more like this: Omnis Infinia gives rise to godlike beings such as ourselves, while Nal Eterna sits in wait to be used by mortal beings. Our energy gives rise to gods to use it, the other cannot be used by gods, but rather, by mortals."
The mother added to the father's statement. "The first time we created a mortal universe, and evolution gave rise to humans, we assumed their form and came down and governed them peacefully. In time, though, some of them gained the power of Nal Eterna, and fought us for their independence. Despite our complete avoidance of tyranny, hatred, or violence, the humans did not like being led by gods or anything perceived as such. After we left them alone, they used their power to tear each other apart, and the only way it ended was when their universe died. You have to stop Nal Eterna or the humans will abuse its power to their own end."
"How do I do that?"
The father grinned. "Believe me, it'll come to you."
He hugged them once more, stifling a tear. "I'll visit you again soon!" He headed in the opposite direction, but turned for a quick moment. "I swear this is the final question, really. Uh, what if I, someday, have a child with a mortal woman?"
They weren't expecting that. "What about it?"
"Well, will the child be a god, a mortal, or something halfway between?"
They both found his question hilarious. "Son, cross that bridge when you get to it. But seriously, there is no such thing as halfway between mortals and what we are. Any child of one of us is as complete and whole as we are."
Jeff materialized high above the Earth. He'd hoped to appear a bit closer, but it was suitable for him. Desiring to act quickly, he surrendered his physical form, just as he had in the godly realm. In the mortal universe, however, quite a bit more sensory input existed. He simultaneously sensed where everyone on the planet was. He literally felt the electromagnetic spectrum, including all radio transmissions, telephone calls, data transfers, and any and all communications or transmissions of any kind. If he focused, he could determine the content of any of them at will, but instead completely ignored all the distractions, and focused on what he really cared about. Beck and Jessica appeared to his senses at a specific location on the globe. He travelled to their location instantly, much faster than the speed of light even, as he weaved back and forth between subatomic particles and even the superstrings that physicists debated the existence of.
In this form, thought occurred on a level he couldn't possibly achieve in his physical form. Knowing what to do faster than a human could decide, he entered the silvery pool of liquid, materializing into his physical body. At once, he became wracked with pain once again. This time, though, it didn't hurt as bad. The Nal Eterna fought to destroy his body, but since he had now achieved a connection to the infinite, he could pour out a limitless amount of godly power. The golden light shot from his body in all directions. The group of magicians, their bodies tied to the Nal Eterna in the pool, didn't stand a chance any longer. With the pool's energy neutralized, it literally vaporized, and with it, their bodies.
Beck stood up, his face a bloody mess. Jessica stammered before positioning herself against a damaged pillar. "Jeff," Jessica said, yelling. "Thank God you're ok."
Beck lifted him up and hugged him. "Jeff! How did you do it? Your body disappeared a moment ago!"
"I met my parents," he replied. "they gave me everything I needed to know." With a wave of his hand, he healed both of them and restored their clothing.
"Hey, let's go see a movie or something," Jessica replied. "I'll pay for it."
"So, Jeff, are the bad guys gone?"
Jeff shook his head. "They're dead. Someone else might try and take their place." He looked at them. "But you know what? I did it once, I can do it again."
Beck rolled his eyes. "Why am I not surprised? After all, superheroes never die; they just get retconned."
Jeff laughed. "Or they stop selling issues," he quipped.