Xilon Wars: The Moons of Rydk

Xilon Wars

image At the End of Days, in the final years before time and space itself ceased to exist, the Xilon civilization had regressed to a more peaceful version of its earliest tribal years. The Council and their Watchmen were dissolved and the great cities and villages of the five central worlds were abandoned in favor of smaller settlements scattered across the stars. One of these settlements was located in a beautiful forest on the border planet Rydk, the closest world to the inner shell of the Aeradisphere, and was favored by the Airikin clan.

In a sprawling, open home built around the lush forest growth that dominated Rydk lived young Khalikhe and his cousin, Nkllon. It was common knowledge that nothing exciting happened at the End of Days, since the universe was so barren and nearly empty at that point. Only a handful of higher life forms survived to see the last zaian of existence, and those who remained had plans to leave for another era when the time came. Life was peaceful and uneventful, marked by little more than relaxation and basic survival.

On the day that everything changed, Nkllon was lying on the deck of the wooden house that he and his cousin had built for themselves a hundred years earlier, reading one of his favorite children's stories about the Aldraaken Sphere, when Khalikhe arrived with Xaren, an older zethres from Coridian. A distant descendant of the legendary warrior Isejor Xhefr, she had been close friends with the Airkin clan for most of her life and regularly looked in on the youths after an accident had taken the elders' lives.

Nkllon was quieter and more thoughtful than his companions, particularly his cousin, who was loud, precocious, and loved to hunt, fight and go off on adventures. As they came up the steps and crossed the deck, Nkllon lifted the ringed metal book towards them. "Have you ever read this one? I think it's one of the best stories our culture has." Khalikhe sneered. "Our culture is dead. You're living in the past, cousin."

image Nkllon wasn't put off; he was used to his young roommate's hostile feelings towards their people from years gone by. In Khalikhe's mind, their civilization should have persisted in all its glory to the very end. He dreamed of being a Guardian, working for the Council, traveling the universe to battle and protect other life forms. He had been born in the wrong era yet when they were finally forced by nature into another time, he would likely not fit in there either. A touch of bitterness was expected.

"I'm telling you, this is one of the greatest myths." Nkllon showed them the cover. It was doubtful that either Xaren or Khalikhe's parents had read them these tales when they were children as his had done for him. "The Aldraaken Sphere. It's this ball of energy that resets the Xilon timeline in cases of extreme and unnatural change. It takes the life force of a Xilon to power it, though, and whoever uses it doesn't just die, they completely cease to exist. Like their entire lives are unwritten. And the craziest part is, it could already have happened and we would never even know!"

Xaren scoffed, heading towards the house. "Really, Nkllon. Everyone knows it's just a bedtime story for the little Xilon who want to grow up to be heroes. You shouldn't take these things so literally. It's some sort of metaphor, that's all." Khalikhe nodded a gruff agreement and, that quickly, the matter was closed. Nkllon, too, had been born in the wrong era. He sometimes wished that there were more Xilon around with whom he could talk about serious issues, art and literature, ideologies; but no one on Rydk had much interest in any of that. There was only one being in all of creation that he could truly speak to on a deeper level, and it was hard to see her often.

Xaren had little patience for his attempt at playing book club; there were far more important matters on her mind. She quickly crossed the deck to where he sat, Khalikhe close on her heels, and told them of her concerns. There were three moons surrounding Rydk and Xaren, who had been studying them for some time, felt that there was evidence of their imminent collapse. Bizarre shifts in their orbit patterns, caused by a constant flow of debris coming from the outside universe through the nearby inner vortex, made her anxious and concerned for the people of Rydk's safety.

Khalihke and Nkllon thought nothing of it but Xaren pointed out that three large moons with nuclear cores, orbiting a very old planet near a collapsing black hole, was a highly dangerous situation that could, under the right circumstances, threaten the entire structure of the Aeradisphere. Everything could fall apart, even before the predetermined end of time.

imageShe also told them of her fear that a Darkness was closing in; anti-existence oozing from the depths of Daxxus, drawing closer, threatening to consume time itself. Although this darkness had so far been slow to spread, it disturbed her and she was concerned that the slightest imbalance could trigger something far worse.

The cousins had no scientific background, but they humored her anyway and asked her to show them in person. So Xaren flew with them to the first moon and told them to look within. Dropping to one knee, Nkllon punched elbow-deep through the hard surface and a blast of blue light and plasma nearly blinded him, shooting up into the sky like a massive torch. In that moment, they knew that something was indeed wrong. By all appearances, the moons were being converted into cold stars.

image After a brief discussion, the trio decided to travel to the capitol planet of their cousin species, the Athalites, in the galaxy Alarahn. Rather than going straight to the central city, the cousins followed Xaren to a rural region on the outskirts of Athalia, where she introduced them to two of her oldest friends, Jaemon and Lydryk. The first was a volunteer protector, the second a farmer and teacher of other life forms that the Athalites oversaw.

The most scientific minded of the group, Lydryk examined his friend's findings through a storage orb and analyzed the possibilities, including whether or not this Darkness and the instability of Rydk's moons posed a threat to the universe beyond. As they conversed, the group was joined by Jaemon's niece, Katrala. Introductions were made but Nkllon and Katrala needed none; they had been seeing one other for decades, in secret. Their generation was encouraged to avoid relationships to prevent complications when the time came to migrate to the past. But the two had met by chance and fallen in love all the same.

After a lengthy debate, by the end of which Khalikhe and Jaemon's eyes had glazed over from lack of interest, the only questions that mattered were: Is what is happening now a part of the natural progression or not? And if not, how can we stop or reverse it? It was decided that Lydryk and Xaren would return to Rydk together, to study the phenomenon in further detail.

image When asked if they cared to join the duo, Khalikhe and Jaemon's reactions were nearly the same. Wild, adventurous spirits on a science trip? Not likely. Deciding that fun was currently the best course of action, they went off to a secluded arena to spar. Glad to be given the time alone, Katrala and Nkllon tactfully excused themselves and disappeared into the Athalian forest to sit by their favorite lake. Katrala picked up right away on Nkllon's anxiety, but he couldn't put into words how he felt. All he knew was that he was nervous, that something was going on that should not be happening, and that in spite of what they knew of the End of Days, he felt lost and unsure of the future. But it comforted him to know that he and Katrala were there, in that moment, together. They talked, on and on until the red and blue suns above had sunk well below the horizon.

While the young lovers were waxing philosophical, Khalikhe and his scaley new friend were trying their best to kill each other in the empty ruins of a once popular Athalite arena. As an adult, Jaemon had the advantage of size and strength while his little opponent was favored by speed and agility.

image After nearly an hour of kicking each other around in a perpetual stalemate, Jaemon dropped Khalikhe hard with a move that the youngster had never seen. Impressed, he begged his sparring partner to teach him the technique. Jaemon explained that the move had been passed down through the generations and was never to be shared with outsiders, but Khalihke swore that he would keep their secret. He then knocked Jaemon down with a special move of his own, one of the classic Airkin combat techniques from the earliest days of Xilon. Seeing Jaemon's interest, he proposed a trade and the elder finally relented. They passed the rest of the evening practicing and perfecting each other's fighting styles.

The fun was short lived, however, when an anxious call came in from Xaren and Lydryk, requesting that everyone join them on Rydk immediately. Upon arriving, the other four were informed that the situation was dire, far worse than they had thought. Lydryk tried to condense and describe their findings. "Realities are shifting on top of each other, displacing each other," he explained, but Nkllon vehemently shook his head. "That's impossible. It's happened before, yes, but not within the Aeradisphere. Multiple realities don't exist here." Lydryk disagreed. "Actually, it has happened before. It's not a common occurrence by any means, but when these types of things do occur within the structure of the Sphere, the results are disastrous. This could be the worst spacial lapse since the Kaos Orb."

image Khalikhe wasn't impressed. "So the universe is ending. What's new? This is the End of Days." Xaren grabbed him by the arm and shook him. "Do you not understand? This is not just about the end of time, the natural end of time. Time and space are being rewritten as we speak. The Darkness, the Nothingness, is consuming everything that we know, slowly but surely. Only the Ancients know how long it's been going on. One little fracture too close to the inner vortex is causing a ripple effect."

Jaemon was also skeptical. "If it's such a cosmic disaster, just go back in time and warn them." Lydryk sighed, looking like he wanted to shake his friend too. "Don't you listen? There is no past to return to! This is happening now and it's happening everywhere, all at once. The universe can't handle this kind of strain!"

"I don't understand." Khalikhe was practically pulling out his hair with irritation. "How can this be happening everywhere all at once?" Xaren groaned. "Listen, this sort of thing has happened only once in all of history. A planet called Ka-Laen was decimated by the first Xilon to use throxin as a weapon. He blew up the planet far in the future, once it was already empty and dying, but because of the levels at which his power was being employed, he literally ripped open the planet's timeline and what happened to the dead world he was standing on happened to its past as well. And that was just one planet, one single planet. The same thing is taking place right now, only on a universal scale. We're talking all of space, all of time, everyone and everything in it. I don't think you two understand the magnitude of the destruction we're looking at!"

image "But it's the End of Days," Khalikhe argued stubbornly. "Nothing happens at the End of Days!" A sudden earth shattering blast rocked the turf beneath their feet and all six of them were thrown to the ground. Before they could stand, two more deafening explosions blasted them halfway across the clearing. With the ground shaking, it took them a moment to find their footing. They looked up at the sky to see massive shockwaves radiating out from each of Rydk's moons. As they struggled to their feet, they stared in horror around them as the plants and homes of the village center began to disintegrate before their eyes, dissolving into piles of sand and ash. The three moons were falling, literally falling out of the sky and heading straight for the planet's surface. As the disintegrating shock waves closed in, Lydryk decided to be the one to state the obvious. "We need to get out of here. Now!"

"Come on!" Jaemon grabbed Khalikhe's arm and yanked him forward as their group broke into a run. Within feet, they had whipped out their wings and were propelling themselves through the air. All knew better than to attempt a jump. With time and space unstable, it would be suicide to try warping through it. So they flew, higher and higher until they broke through the atmosphere. They had barely escaped orbit when the three moons collided with the planet's surface and Rydk exploded behind them, the entire world going off with all the power of a Nyimian shock wave. The six raced through space without looking back, heading for the vortex, dodging through the rapidly expanding wave of debris that soon encompassed them. The entire inner lining of the Aeradisphere was breaking up around them, shattering like glass.

image They barely made it through the black hole in time, flinging themselves into the Spiral and careening through the winding interdimensional tunnel at speeds they hadn't even known they could reach. The Darkness oozed into the pathway behind them, consuming everything, even the walls of the Spiral itself, spreading fast, reaching out towards them. And then it overtook them. Xaren was the first to go. The black mass spread across her foot and she jerked to a sudden stop, then was yanked backwards into it and disappeared. Next was Lydryk, then Katrala, disappearing into oblivion in a violent tumble of debris. As they neared the outer vortex, Khalikhe felt the Darkness catching up with him. The way out was so close but he wasn't going to make it. Seconds before he reached the exit, he felt himself starting to fade and knew that he was about to disappear with the others. Then, without warning, Jaemon dropped out of his place in the front and somersaulted through the air, dropping back to where Khalikhe was. In one smooth motion, he grabbed the young Xilon and flung him forward, straight out of the vortex and into open space with his cousin. No sooner had he done it than he, too, disappeared into the blackness.

Stunned, Kahlikhe turned back to stare at the pathway crumbling to pieces along with the entire Aeradisphere behind him. But he only got a split second's look before Nkllon swooped down, grabbed his arm and yanked him into a warp as the entire Sphere exploded, blasting them forward, sending them careening through a dizzying swirl of moving space and time.

There was a violent jolt, and then everything went black.

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