Everything was a blur. He couldn't hear the erupting chaos in the small bunker he had sheltered in. He didn't notice when the door splintered and crumbled. He couldn't see the horrific display of violence that ensued. He never heard the agony of his trusted allies as they were cut down in front of him. All he heard was his own failing heartbeat. Time went by in slow motion, the heavy uniformed boots stepping carefully over the mass of bodies. His heartbeat slowed, and finally stopped.
"Any matches?" called the field commander. The small squadron armed with shortswords surveying the scene drew itself to attention. One by one his grunts replied.
"None yet, sir!"
"No-" the private hesitated. He stooped down over one of the bodies and rolled it onto its back.
He grinned. A match.
"Over here, sir!" he yelled.
The commander strode over to the private with all the elegance he could muster in a room filled with corpses. He knelt next to the body his lackey had pointed out, examined it, and smiled.
"Good work, soldier," he said, "we got 'im".
The soldier beamed. This meant a promotion for sure.
The commander stood up and called for his 'list'. A soldier then left briefly and scurried back with a book and a pen a few moments later. The commander opened the book, flipped through a few pages and stopped on the page labeled 'Orion'. He paused for a moment, taking in the joy of this momentous occasion, and scrawled DECEASED in large, important looking letters.
"Now, gentlemen, if you'll direct your attention to section three paragraph six of my report, you'll find a detailed description of my findings concerning-"
The tall, anxious looking man at the front of the makeshift conference chamber stopped speaking and looked expectantly at one of the old, clearly unimpressed businessmen sitting at the table in front of him.
"Mr. Arcale," he repeated, as if he didn't already have his undivided attention, "My colleagues and I appreciate how much work you've put into this… this project," he said, gesturing to the hastily prepared model at the front of the room. "But I'm afraid we're not seeing much progress, and at this point we have been considering… taking our business elseware."
The man, Luther Arcale, hurriedly consulted his notes.
"Mister Mackbey, please. I guarantee, this can work! All I need is a little more time-"
"You've had three years, Mister Arcale!" Mackbey shouted. "We've wasted countless months and ludicrous amounts of money on you, and for what? You actually believe the absurd notion that you can make a man fly!? There once was a time when we held you in the highest regard, but now look at you. You've been reduced to mucking about in the impossible, dreaming up mannequins that move by themselves, lightning powered vehicles, and now flying machines! If you continue along this path, you'll have not only lost the support of my business, but you'll drive yourself and your family into a poverty so great you'll need a king's ransom to get yourself out of it! Good day, sir!"
And with that, he stood up, grabbed his bag, and strode out of the room, immediately followed by his subordinates. Luther Arcale slowly sank into his chair, too stunned to say anything. He winced when he heard the front door slam. A few seconds later, a concerned looking woman poked her head through the open door.
"Luther?" she said, "Luther, what happened?"
Luther took a shaky breath, and ran a sweaty hand through his thick dark brown hair.
"Sorry Maria," he said, "but I may have just lost our last client."
Maria sighed and sat down next to Luther. She pursed her lips and put a comforting arm around Luther's shoulders.
"Those corporate stiffs don't know what they're missing," she said, and smiled reassuringly.
Luther gave her a sideways glance, and smiled weakly.
"Thanks, Maria. Now," he said, getting up, "Where's my boy?"
"Here I am, dad!" a small boy yelled and ran into the room, into the welcoming arms of his father. He giggled when Luther picked him up off the floor and swung him around.
"Hey," said Luther, "I got you a present." The boy's eyes widened.
"But daddy, my birthday's not until next week!" Luther smiled.
"I know, but I need some cheering up." He put his son down and pulled a ring out of his pocket. On the ring was the word Orion written in beautiful calligraphy. The boy gasped.
"Is that for me, dad?" he asked excitedly.
"Yes, it is, but you have to be very careful with it. It belonged to a very dear friend of mine," Luther said.
The boy nodded enthusiastically. "I promise, daddy!" he said, and reached up to take the ring from his father. Luther slid it on his finger. The boy looked at it and frowned.
"It doesn't fit," he said, disappointed. Luther smiled.
"Not a problem," he said, and pressed down a tiny button on the ring. The ring immediately tightened to a snug fit. The boy lit up immediately.
"That's amazing, dad!" he exclaimed.
"Thank you. It's one of the first things I ever made," Luther said, and ruffled his son's hair fondly. "Now go, show your friends."
The boy nodded and ran out the door. Luther smiled and turned to Maria, whose expression was solemn. Luther's smile faded.
"I know what you're thinking about," he said, "Don't worry. I don't believe in fate. Just because Orion went down that path doesn't mean our son will."
Maria's expression softened slightly. "I know," she said, "I just can't help it. It's just… we named our son after him. Was that wise?"
Luther smiled and shook his head. "Maria, a name is just that. A name. Our son doesn't even remember Orion. Nobody knows who we used to be. Nothing is going to happen to him. I promise." He said. Maria didn't respond. She looked out the window at little Orion and sighed.
"We can never tell him," she said. Luther walked over and held her tightly.
"I know," he said, "I know."