Their difference in age had been a glaring handicap to their relationship from the start. And no, he hadn tried to become her guard with the intention of having a romantic relationship with the Oracle. That had been incidental. How was Marcus supposed to know that they were soul mates?
Both standing, at last, the pretty girl took hold of Marcuss arm to steady herself, and Marcus felt an uncharacteristic blush heat his face. ”How old am I? ” His much higher-pitched voice echoed strangely in this unfamiliar place.
”About seven…but you should go down to five. ” Hakas bright blue eyes danced merrily. That and her blonde hair were evidence of her returned humanity.
”Oh. I should, should I? ” The giggle which sprang forth from her lips at his reaction seemed to perfectly match her perfect rosy cheeks and almost ringlet curls.
”Well, Ive never rewritten the base code of the universe before. ” Dusting some of the grime from a hand, Haka pointed to a door against the far wall of the huge chamber they were now in. Despite the strangeness of the place, Marcus trustingly followed this girl he now felt he barely knew.
”What is this place? ” The boy gestured around the giant cavern with walls that may have been metal but could have been anything. ”I don know much about the Chronos Vault. ” Peering at every corner avidly Marcus found it difficult to undo his years of military training even as a child. The man still lived within the childs body, just as the ancient sage and Oracle still lived within the young girl with him.
”Ive never really known what it is. ” Waiting patiently for the hissing of the door to open, Haka waved expansively with the free arm. ”A relic of times long past; before the time of Chukwu and the Watcher. ” Her living crutch paused mid-stride and so the girl had to pause and wait with him.
”There was nothing before the time of Chukwu. ” Marcus blurted out, feeling as if he truly were the inexperienced youth he appeared to be just then.
”Oh Love. ” Patting the arm she clutched sympathetically, Haka urged her companion on. ”There was the Chronos Vault before there was space and before there was time. But … ” Haka let the sentence hang for dramatic effect as yet another person-sized hatch within a giant spaceship sized door opened before them revealing a huge complex within. A central, hollow ring stretched miles around with a walkway ringing it.
High above there was another ring, and another ring stretching up higher than either child could see. Enormous doors lined the wide, railed walkways. Beside them, sitting before the hangar-sized door they were near was the Ark class battle cruiser Haka had been expecting.
”If you have questions, this is the place we can get answers. ” Haka finished quietly. With satisfaction, the girl watched the awe overcome Marcus.
”Since when have the Alluran had battleships? ” He looked up and down into infinity.
”From before time began this fortress has stood here outside of space and time. The ships are Ark class battlecruisers. ” Marcus glanced back at Haka as he heard the reverence in her voice. ”They are capable of temporal and trans-dimensional flight. Can annihilate more than fifty percent of a physical plane with one firing of the main weapons battery; sustain a crew of five hundred and a passenger count of two-million souls in stasis. Minimum crew complement of fifty required for flight…or one Allura. ”
Her breath came in sharp exhalations and the wistful longing flooded Hakas pale and freckled face.
e beautiful. Other than how to get here, this is the only thing I have ever known about the Chronos vault…there are thousands of fully functional Arks…and I have no idea what they are for. ”
Releasing his grip on Haka, Marcus walked unsteadily toward the rail along the edge that didn seem anywhere near sturdy enough to prevent a tragic end. Getting a better look both up and down, he could see that there were doors and ships for as far as he could see. Not every door had a ship, only about one in four. Whether the same set up was on the far side of the facility, he couldn tell. A bright beam of blue-white light crackled up and down the empty space obscuring his view. It seemed to be the same energy that fueled the miraculous feats which the Alluran were worshipped as Goddesses for.
”Are you sure that Chukwu doesn know about this place? ” Marcus questioned quietly. ”Because I think I know why he feels so threatened by Allura now. ” It was so typical of her kind though. Haka, like every Alluran, saw only the beauty and the good. Arks. A safe haven for people when destruction was upon them. He, a human, saw the threat and danger in such powerful weapons that could be yielded by one person alone.
”I don understand. ” Biting her lip in confusion, Haka was every bit the child she now appeared to be.
”You are the Oracle! If you choose, when you touch a thing you can know its whole history; past, present, and future. ” Still, the girl stared at him as if she had no idea what he was getting at. ”Why are there so many ships designed to be piloted by an Allura if there had always only been one? ” Slowly confusion gave way to understanding. Marcus had always referred to the Allura, the life force which bonded with only one woman in the Alluran species at a time, like a parasite. It could only exist in a host. If there were no Alluran, then the life force would create them. That was how powerful it was. Even if her species died out, they would be resurrected.
”But there has only ever been one…jumping from mother to daughter, sister to aunt…cousin to cousin. In all the history of this universe, there was only ever one. ” It was clear that in all her years, with all her wisdom, Haka had never fully thought through the simple questions which should have plagued her. That was a clear sign of memory tampering and psychic conditioning.
”How many Allura did there used to be? And who killed them all if they died before time began? ” Looking around alertly, the boy drew closer to the girl. ”Are we safe here? ”
”Yes! ” Haka emphatically assured him with crossed arms. ”This is the one place in all the universes which have been or ever will be that we could be safe. Everything, everything outside could end for good, and we would still be safe in here. ” She spoke the words from memory. Centuries ago, it had been her in here asking if it were safe. Her mothers voice echoed from the walls in its familiar subdued velvet tones.
It was an incident she didn remember until her experience required that she remember it. But she remembered all the other times those words had been spoken. She remembered her grandfather telling her mother and before her, her grandmother the exact same things when they were children. Genetic memories passed on in the unique way of the Alluran.
”I have questions. ” Marcuss hard angry voice interrupted her remembrance. ”Come on. ” Grabbing her hand and heading for a nearby computer terminal, a terminal created eons before the evolution of human beings yet perfectly designed for their use. ”I want to know what kind of species is capable of building an Ark to survive the end of existence. ”
Dread filled the three-thousand-year-old girl. ”Yes. ” She agreed meekly. ”I think I want to know as well. ” Why hadn she wondered about these things before now? Why hadn she remembered the existence of what was in this place prior to needing to come here? What else had she forgotten? And how was she going to repair the damage caused by the explosion she had run here to escape?
More than just her life would have been affected. She had changed time without the guidance of an Allura to show her the possible threads that would be affected. She had crossed the primary veil without the ability to heal a breach if one occurred. A sudden pain shot through her body, collapsing her to the ground. Marcus tried to lift her, and when his new body failed him, held her tight instead.
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