Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! Welcome back to Story Time With Tim! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and here we have the final part of my novella Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age! I wrote this waaaaaaay back in 2005 and I’ve always had a soft spot for the story (well, I guess that’s true for all of my tales, anyhow!).
Regardless, this tale is now in its last throws! So, let’s make it a great reading! If you’re behind on the story, why not check out some of the earlier postings, eh?
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter One the Voice of God
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter Two Coalition of the Willing
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter Three Stronghold for the Damned
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter Four Ark of a New Covenant
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter Five Followers of the Way
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter Six Architecture of War
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter Seven Before Dawn’s Eve
Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age: Chapter Eight Disciples of Chaos
Okay, now that we’re all caught up, let’s get to the final chapter of Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age!
THE THIRTEENTH AGE
“Alexia, what are you doing?” Joseph stared at the woman in mild shock, but didn’t make to surrender.
“I figured it out, Joseph. Why it was we weren’t finding anything out about who was masterminding the terror. It was you. You were in position to sit on the leads… you used me, Joseph, used my connection with the F.B.I. to bury the information until you were ready to unveil whatever it was you were so determined to unveil. So, here we are. Tell me, why did you murder so many innocents, Joseph? Why!?” she screamed at him, tears trailing down her cheeks.
“It was Robert, wasn’t it?” he smiled and looked down at the detonator. “You know, I knew the second I saw him that he would say something. But… that’s the way I wanted it.”
Joseph looked into her unflinching eyes as she replied. “That does not tell me why, Joseph.”
“Why? You have to ask why!?” His fury pulsed through his veins, the memories of hatred and desecration flooding his brain. “Look around you, Alexia! Their taint is everywhere! Their society, their desires, their technologies, their every sacrilegious instinct driven by their self-adulating ‘morals’!”
He finished counting off his list of complaints on his fingers. “Even your very name belongs to them!”
Alexia didn’t move, as Joseph glared at her in contempt and slowly walked around the bridge. “Think about it, Alexia. The white man’s religion spreads through our lands like a plague. How many wars has he fought in the name of God? How many people has he murdered for the sake of saving ‘peace’? He claims he has a moral obligation to humanity, but the white man only cares for himself! Do you really think Tatanka would sanctify such lunacy? They must be forced to return to where they came from! Our peoples will rise again!”
“So, you make a political point by committing murder!? Religion is nothing more than an expression of our beliefs in God! It doesn’t have a face. Even we have faith in God, in Tatanka! We’re all the same, underneath it all,” she pled still holding the weapon in firm resolve.
“No! They’re all the same! They seek only to spread their beliefs and to force any who do not see the way they do to believe it anyway! All the major religions are at each other’s throats! And then they come here, and steal our lands! They are all guilty of crimes against humanity!” He thrust his right arm out in emphasis on what he was saying. “If they won’t leave, then they’ll all die!”
“Listen to yourself, Joseph! You sound just like those extremists we’ve dedicated our lives to stopping! You… I can’t believe you would be behind all of this! The innocents… the school… They were children, you sick son-of-a-bitch! They didn’t deserve that! They weren’t guilty of anything more than being born into this chaotic world!” she screamed at him, feeling the heat of her anger flush her face red.
Joseph glared at her for several moments as she trembled out of disgust and pity. To her amazement, he smiled and stepped back only slightly. The door to the bridge whiffed open behind her, causing her to glance over her right shoulder. Kylie and Uday stepped into the room and froze, seeing the scene before them. Alexia refocused on Joseph where they stood in the middle of the room, their standoff becoming ever more tense.
“It doesn’t matter anymore, anyway,” Joseph scowled. “For our failure to drive away the white ghost, our people have paid the ultimate price. Now, there is no future.”
“Don’t do it…” Alexia calmly commanded, as Joseph’s hand went to input the code into the detonator remote.
He paused and stared at her. Guilt seemed to etch its way across his face, as he mentally chewed on some thought. Alexia couldn’t tell what it was and could only buy what time she could, as she struggled desperately to figure out a solution to her immediate problem. Her time ran out when Joseph walked towards her.
“What are you doing, Joseph? Don’t make me kill you.”
“Actually, Alexia, that is your only other option. You can kill me,” he stated as he placed his chest lightly against the barrel of her handgun that quivered with her trembling fingers. “Or, I blow this ship to pieces and settle old debts. Which is it going to be, ‘partner’?”
“It’s really quite simple. Either you’re going to defend them, or you remember the roaming buffalo, the swift breeze, the never-ending plains, the very life-giving oxygen in our lungs. Our people. All gone.” He shook his head slowly and then the rage boiled over, as he pointed to Kylie and Uday, who stood transfixed by the situation they had stumbled onto. “And they took it all away! They don’t care about you! And they don’t care about me! We’re jokes to them! Our people, our traditions, our history… it’s all one big joke to all of them! ‘Prairie Niggers’! That’s all we are to them!”
Alexia looked to the ground. Thoughts of deep contemplation rolled through her head as everything Joseph had said burned into her soul.
Our people… have suffered. So… many gone. Oh God… Where will we go from here? What if… are we the last of our peoples? It probably would be easier just to let go… She lowered her weapon and pointed it towards the floor. Joseph nodded solemnly and lifted his hand to the remote.
“But… we have to think about the future,” Alexia uttered, not looking at him.
Joseph stared at her for a moment. “There is no future.”
Alexia rounded her right arm through the air and smacked Joseph’s temple with the butt of her gun. He flailed backwards into a console and dropped the remote. She rushed him and thrust her left shin into his groin, causing him to reel over and, as he did so, she rammed her shoulder into his torso causing him to careen onto the floor.
“There may be a point in there somewhere, Joseph,” she started and slammed her shin into his gut as he tried to get up. “However, there’s a difference between you and I, I’m not a cowardly piece of shit like you!”
Alexia screamed at his bent over form and went to kick him again. Whatever had transpired in years past, whatever sorrows and suffering her people had endured, she felt she had a responsibility towards those on the ship, because they hadn’t caused her any pain. But she knew who had and she thrust her knee towards his stomach once again. However, Joseph was ready and grabbed her leg. He pushed himself at Alexia, throwing her off balance. His left fist slammed into her abdomen, doubling her over, and then threw her across the console top.
Uday threw his arms in the air in a panic. He wasn’t a fighter and didn’t know what he should do, though he desperately wanted to do something. “Oh, Allah, please, Allah, help us!”
Kylie stared dispassionately at the fight, but her eyes widened when she witnessed Joseph reach for the remote. Alexia was back on her feet and jumping on top of him to prevent the code from being entered. A sudden jabbing elbow met her jaw resulting in a loud cracking sound echoing throughout the bridge.
Alexia didn’t relent, even through the groggy field of sudden nausea that threatened to render her unconscious. She reached for the remote as he forced himself to a standing position, pushed her off his shoulders, and punched her in the mouth, sending her to the floor.
Bleeding, bruised, and severely pissed off, Joseph finished inputting the code. “Sorry, Alexia. Don’t be angry with me. It is something that has to be done. They can’t be allowed to taint sacred grounds again.”
“Wait! No, let’s talk about…!” Uday shouted as Joseph ignored him and depressed the enter key on the remote. A blinding white flash filled the room.
The ship trembled under the shockwave of the explosion and Uday fell to the floor. I’ve failed, Allah! Forgive me… He felt a numbness overcoming his existence, as he clenched his eyelids tighter. The trembling subsided. Am… am I dead?
Uday opened his eyes and saw a swirling, blue-gray globe on the viewscreen that was still functioning despite the total destruction of much of the bridge. Explosion blast marks stained the ceilings and walls. Alexia was lying unconscious near the front of the bridge. He didn’t see much left of Joseph and quickly turned away. How!? How can I still be alive when Joseph was…?
He noticed Kylie, then, standing with her arms in the air and a nearly invisible spherical shield of energy dissipating, allowing the remaining smoke to slowly drift away. He saw the blast radius, noting its spherical shape, where Joseph had been and covering where the main consoles had stood. Now, a smoldering hole of steel gave a clean line of sight towards the viewscreen. Confusion entered his mind and he stared at the woman who looked more pale than she had before.
“How…?” he started.
“I… find it difficult to explain, Uday,” she replied with a vacant expression.
He shook his head and looked towards the viewscreen. Alexia lay at its base, not moving. This prompted Uday to forget anymore questions and rush to her side. “Alexia? Wake up. Tell me you’re fine.”
Uday felt a pulse and a wave of relief hit him. His weary glance saw Earth. And then the image flickered causing him to worry about what damage the blast had done.
“I think that explosion may have seriously damaged something.” He voiced his thoughts from where he sat by Alexia and looked at Kylie.
Uday slowly got to his feet, as his jaw dropped. Kylie was flickering as well.
“You are- more r, r, right than y- …ow, Uday,” her speaking was breaking in and out like a CB out of range.
While he pondered the new revelation, the ship lurched violently and everything that had been the ship he had overseen the construction of, disappeared. Lights flickered out and came back on several moments later.
Uday found himself in a fantastically massive room and stared in disbelief. Light illuminated the floor where Alexia lay beside him, yet he couldn’t determine the source of the light. If it was the ceiling, it was too far away to be certain. Looking up all he saw was the darkest abyss. He stumbled under a tremor and held onto a massive device at what he perceived to be the center of the room. The blast zone was all around it and it looked irreparably damaged. Whatever it was used for, it probably wouldn’t function any longer.
“Kylie? What’s going on?” He looked at her and then saw everyone that was on board standing in various locations looking puzzled.
His family, the crewmen, Alexander and his wife, Elisa, Jason, Pam and Robert… they were all there on the flat floor where once the ship had been. He stared at the floor. It’s as wide and as long as the ship! Where are we!?
“What happened to the ship!?” Alexander cried out. “There was this explosion and sudden lurch…”
“Kylie!?” Jason and Elisa stared at their friend who flickered and glowed a strange white aura.
“I have a secret,” she stated with a mischievous grin. “You see, I am God.”
“God? Are you insane!?” Alexander questioned in the midst of the group of perplexed individuals.
They all gathered closer to Kylie, hoping to hear some answers that made sense. “N… …ot… Not insane. I have b-b-b-been charged with the defense of humani-t-t-ty. I wish that …ere was more t-t-t-time. I am certain that you …ave many questions. …owever, the explo-o-o-osive charge that Joseph …et off has destroyed an already ancient energy core. You ar-ar-are the chosen few who will bring salvation to all y-y-y-your kind.”
They all stared at the vision of Kylie that was becoming more and more holographic by the second. “How can you be Allah!? He has no form! He came to me in a dream! You… I don’t know what you are!” Uday shouted, feeling very cold, flustered, and depressed.
“It was n-n-n-necessary to come to …ou in …at form. C-c-c-curious, I’m sure you are. An energy projection using atm-mo-mo-mospheric conditions to project the light and m-m-m-moecules to …voice. There is no point in-n-n-n hiding it anymore. To saffffe…ard your species, you must be made to know. Mill-iiiiiiiiions upon millions of years ago, I was built to save humanity f-f-f-from …e entities known as The Plague.”
“‘The Plague’?” Queried Elisa.
“Wh… what’s going on?” Alexia questioned as she sat up and rubbed her hand on her forehead.
Uday helped her to her feet and informed her of what he had just found out. “Joseph is dead. Our ship doesn’t exist. And Kylie… apparently… is God.”
“How long was I out?” Alexia inquired staring blankly at Uday and then at Kylie, not understanding what she was hearing.
“The Plague is a collection of machines designed to mine asteroids. They were specialized units that knew no equal. Learn-n-n-n-ning machines, capable of surviving the desolate re-re-regions of deep space. Unfortunately, the ins-s-s-sectoid creatures became too sentient, th-th-their learning centers evolvvvvving. Soon, those entities understood the threat humanity posed to itself …nd its natural envi…ent. When they began attacking deep space outposts on their jo-journey towards the homeworld, I was created. No wea-weapon was capable enough against the adaptive programmmmmming of The Plague. My mission, secure humankind and preeeevent The Plague from destroying it,” she related as everyone stared at her glowing form in the abysmal darkness, their only angel in their shattered world. “I was encoded with a GOD program to re-re-remain invisible, but always present, a secret presence in reality, even from the very life I was created to protect.
“The Plague would move in, when they discovered where humanity had escaped to, and swarm the planet, eradicating all they found. I w-w-would select those capable enough of saving humankind and create a cataclysmic event to bring them together. In this manner, we remainnnnnned hidden from The Plague.”
“You created cataclysmic events?” Alexander questioned, praying she wasn’t suggesting what he thought she was suggesting.
“…For instance, the nuclear war that transpired on Earth. It was The Plague that truly began wiping your kind out. I… I… I was forced to use the nuclear capacities of humanity’s weaponry to attack The Plague… hhhhhhopefully, slowing them down.”
“You… killed everyone else?” Elisa asked, on the verge of crying.
“Those that hadn’t already died… yes, darling. I’m sorry. I hope someday you’ll find it in your heart to for-for-forgive me. It was a necessary evil to achieve a crucial end. I cannot directly interfere with humanity. It is forbidden in my programming. I could not have stopped a nuclear strike amongst your kind. A neutral observer, cloaked and ever present, am I. Yet, to preserve mankind, I some-sometimes hhhhhave to get a little creative. So long as it does not overtly alert you to my presence. Which, it would seem, has become the truly moot point.”
Silence prevailed over the room as the group stared at the floor, taking it all in. Low rumbling rippled through the hulls of the massive ship that had harbored theirs.
“This… can’t be real.” Alexia muttered, tears flowing freely.
“I’m …orry …lexia. I wish …ere was more time. I’m sorry about …oseph too.” Kylie smiled innocently, knowing the woman must have suffered greatly to fight him. “I …adn’t anticipated his involve…ent in the terrorist crimes.”
“I thought you were God?” Alexia quipped, trying to smile.
“I can’t read minds, even if I can see all actions,” she replied with a slight grin.
A rumbling greater than before caused a panicked murmur. “You now, are re…sible for humanity.”
Uday was perplexed and looked at Kylie. “How, Kylie? Just us? How are we to save humanity? Why did you have me build the ship? You could have taken us at any time?”
“It was necessary to preserve the illusion. Recall th-th-the fables of the ‘Ark’? Forty days and forty nights? That was one of the ages of man. The ship was part of that illusion so that you, and all who would follow you, would come to the Ark.”
“All who would follow us?” Uday walked closer to her.
She walked five paces away from them and stopped. “Your flock.”
Waving her hand, a massive light highlighted an even larger room below them. The group looked over the sudden edge and saw a lower level. Walking around groggily and stumbling in panic, were the thousands of onlookers who had gathered outside of the warehouse.
“Those are the people who came to see the Ark!” Alexander spoke in exasperation.
“Yes. Your followers. Including yourse…ves… one hunddddred and twenty thou…nd. Their numbers are of all faiths, all races, even your tribal nations, Alexia,” she said, as Alexia stared in wonder.
The rumbling beneath their feet increased in ferocity. “I am truly sorry. To leave yyyyyou in this way. You …ill have to find a way to survive. You must finally des…oy The Plague.”
“Destroy The Plague? Easier said than done, I’m afraid. So, how many times have you been forced to save our bacons?” Alexander queried hesitantly, shaking his head still trying to find a way to believe.
“Twelve. There have been twelve ages to man. Welcome… to the Thirteenth.” Kylie responded and turned towards Elisa and Jason. “You two, don’t cry. I will always be with you …n spirit. However, I hhhhave to go-go-go. I will not survive the impact.”
“You can’t go!” Jason said as Kylie knelt down to hug him with her fading form, the substance to her holographic matrix breaking apart with every rumble.
“Impact?” Uday came forward in concern.
“Yes. The explosion damaged the energy core. This ship will not be able to slow its descent onto the new world.”
“What!?” Uday, his family, and Alexander shouted out in unison.
“I have taken you as far as I could. This was the closest world.”
“Wait, what? Closest world? We’re not at Earth? I thought you said this was an invisible ship? Or, that’s what I gathered you meant.”
“It is. I am. The ship and I are one and the same. But that does not imply that I should stay and wait for The Plague to find us. That was the reason for the invisibility, the GOD program, to escape. You did not think humanity always existed on Earth, did you? Fear not, this is a livable planet. Planets like these I have always sought. To hide the truth from hu…ity, I …ad to devise these plots so as not to confuse you. This makes the trans…tion …easier. It is like you never left.”
Uday stared in disbelief as she continued. “The flood that is so well preached in your biblical texts was the end of the Seventh age. The Plague, though, did not see us leave. Unfortunately, though, we have not had the chance to travel a year or even anywhere near the distance involved with the Seventh age. We have only traveled for a few days. I cannot say how long it will take The Plague to fin… …ou.”
The rumblings intensified and didn’t abate. She turned back to the two children. “I shall miss you.”
“We’ll miss you too, Kylie…” Jason sobbed and hugged her again.
Elisa couldn’t say anything, it was all too intense.
“Uday, one last thing …all previous ages …all of h…man history …it-it-it is recorded onto my data banks …Those will survive …impact. Salvage them …use them …find a way to sto… …he Plague …Oh …good luck,” she said sadly, as the ship shuddered explosively, knocking everyone to the floor.
Kylie’s form vanished leaving a deep darkness. Screams from below echoed through the void, as the shuddering grew more violent and vicious. The ship was tossed and the sounds of rending metals and materials screeched through the hulls and sent terror into the minds of everyone as they sought each other’s hands, anything for a little bit of reprieve.
An eternity of chaos ensued and then, just as suddenly, it stopped. Uday and Alexia both felt the bruises forming from being tossed around by the ship as it skipped over terrain and what had to have been stone and rock. A groan emanated forth as light filtered through the cracks of a massive hangar door. The light formed a three quarters boxing effect along the perimeter of the door. Yet, it wasn’t a soothing white light, but rather a muted deep red. Uday figured the doors must have automated sensors to force the exits open in the advent of an emergency landing.
The group stared at each other as the interior of the ship was lit up under the red glow. They stood up and approached a very wide stairwell that led down to what was clearly a hangar bay. They stopped and saw the planetary environment beyond those massive doors that could clear five aircraft carriers three wide and two stacked. Purplish vegetation covered extremely rocky terrain. Dots of green and red offset the purple. Disturbing was the deep magenta skies that were darkening with the promise of a fierce thunderstorm. A soft and cool breeze came in through the opening and a scent of tangy blossoms wafted in with it. One hundred twenty thousand human beings gasped at the new landscape in unified disbelief.
“So, what do we do now?” Robert spoke, breaking the silence that hung over them like a cloud of fear.
Alexia looked at all their faces and down towards the brave souls creeping out towards the terrain beyond. She sighed and breathed in the fresh air with a slight smile. She refused to let fear and uncertainty stop her from placing one foot in front of the other.
We come to the end of Holy Shards The Thirteenth Age! This has been one long novella! I hope you had fun with the story and that you are intrigued enough to come back next week for another Story Time With Tim! Thanks for reading and read to you again next week!
~Timothy S Purvis
While you’re here, why not head on over to my author’s page and check out some of my other works that have been published over the last few years? I would certainly appreciate your supporting the cause! Just click on my name and the link will take you straightaway to my site: –> Timothy S Purvis
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