Intentions of Time: The Future (cont)

We found the seventh Talent today. She is but a child, a thirteen year old girl with hazel eyes and cropped brown hair. Finally, after three years since the war began, we had enough power to repel the Mission. The seventh Talent assured that much, at least. She was the key to our stalemate. I can still remember when it was just me, barely a year after Heero's death. After I somehow got through the fever and my utter lack of will to live, I had found that I was Talented. Of course, that word did not exist back then, but still. I was the first. The first with the power. When I discovered it, I told no one, fearing their reactions, afraid of the power. But here we are, three years later, and there are seven of us. I am the First. I am the one who saved the planet from destruction when the Mission first came. I remember that day. Everyone does. It was a cloudy day for me, about noon or so. I think it was a Tuesday. The skies became dark and then there were explosions. Massive flames and huge craters left in their wake. Hell did come to earth. The Preventers sent out every man and woman on duty who could pick up a gun out into space to face the horrible attack only to find that the colonies had been blown apart already. Billions of casualties and the war had been only a few hours old then. And within thirty minutes, every single ship sent by the Preventers was gone, reduced to scrap metal and cinders by the attacking force. The bombardment on the earth continued after that, each blow taking hundreds of thousands of lives at once. I fully believe that on that day, we lost three fourth of the human race. And it was then that I unleashed everything I had within me and repulsed the attacks. My Talent flowed through me, pouring outward in uncontrollable spasms, reflecting shots that was on the other side of the earth, blasting the ships out of the sky with barely a thought. The attacks stopped after several hours of me fighting against them. And that was when what was left of the earth government and the Preventers assembled together and discovered that it was me, only me, that had stopped the complete annihilation. That was when I was dubbed the First Talent. That was when I became the vessel of hope for every single living creature on the face of the earth. I was barely defending then, always overrun by the numbers. Within a month, we found two more Talents, not as powerful, but just as needed. The three of us fended off the attacks, put up barriers around the earth. But we were getting tired. Then slowly, we found the others and a measure of relief. When I found the Second, completely by accident, I was relieved to share my burden. He was a twenty year old man, only two years younger than me. But he seemed so young, so childish. Couple of weeks fighting by my side changed that. His innocent face became battle hardened and sharp within moments. I did not mourn his loss, no more than he did. Then the Third. A young man of eighteen. Full of fear and cowardly motives. We changed that in him, too. Now, three years later, he is one of the most courageous people I know. Then over the three years before finding the Seventh, there came the Fourth, a beautiful woman who had been a model. She and the Third became lovers quickly. The Fifth, a battle hardened former Oz soldier who had a soft spot for children. The Sixth, a brilliant economist who lost her family and all her friends in one swift attack. And finally, we have the Seventh. She has attached herself rather firmly to the Fifth, looking to him like a father figure. She needs it, really. She's only thirteen and an orphan. I know how she feels, alone in the world, forced to fight a war. But we need her. Now, we can call a stalemate. Never a truce, but a wary cease fire while we test each other out in our new capacities. God, I wish it was over.

The Talents stood in a circle, an intense look of concentration and pain on their faces. They were alone, standing atop the majestic mountain called K2, a mountain that the human race had conquered with grit and determination hundreds of years ago. They were surrounded by snow and an eerie quietude that did not match the intensity of war going on in space. A few hours ago, Duo had sent out orders for everyone on earth to go into their bombardment shelters and take cover. Everyone, save him and the Six, were underground, hoping against hope that when they emerged, the world would be safe. They would try their best to make the world's dream come true. So here they were, on top of a mountain, letting their Talents rage and merge in a deadly dance for victory. Duo did not notice the drip of perspiration as his Talent wiped out thousands of ships in space with one swipe. He barely paid attention to the work of the others, too busy with his own part in the war. He felt the comforting presence of the Fifth and the Seventh's power merged into a barrier around the earth, repelling direct attacks and invasions into the atmosphere. His Talent brushed lightly against the Sixth's intense attack upon the space fortress. His mind's eyes saw the Second and the Third systematically destroy ships within their assigned quadrant. His body rejuvenated when the Fourth infused him with her own power to keep him going. The battle raged and the Mission took heavy losses. But the energy core within the fortress was still intact, still gathering more power. In five minutes, whether or not each were done with their quadrants, all seven would gather together their power and send one, final massive attack into the Mission's space fortress. It would either win the war or lose it. Five minutes until the end of the world as they knew it. Five minutes could run so slowly.

Today is the anniversary of the Mission attack. It is the nineteenth anniversary of the day when everything changed for the worst. But I'm still here, as are the others, living, breathing, surviving. The cease fire is at its fifteenth year, each side only attacking every other week or so without heavy damage to either side. My power is still growing and I know I have not reached the limits of what my Talent can do. Not by far. I will win this war one day soon, for humanity, for me. And in a way, for Heero. Heero would not have wanted to see the world he fought so hard for come to this. He could not have stood by idle while I cast myself into the front lines every day. At least, he is at peace. I must believe that. Quatre looks a bit more somber today than usual. He's probably recalling how Trowa died ten years ago in an attack that I could not fully repel. That was my mistake, my fault. That was the day that Quatre knew how I felt when I lost Heero. I never wanted him to know. True, we had lost Wufei, Sally, Noin, Zechs and Lady Une during the first assault by the Preventers on the first day of the war, but they had died fighting for the earth. Their deaths, though sad and pointless, had been for what they believed in. Trowa's death had been due to my inattention, my lack of enough power. Even with the Six by my side and my enormous Talent, I could not save Trowa that day. I feel the guilt and the weight of his death every day. I only have Quatre and Relena left to me. Dorothy is long gone, too, killed by rioters three years ago in the European vector. She was courageous, that crazy blond. I miss her too. I miss them all, but most especially, I miss my Heero. I will visit his grave later, first of many graves I will visit today. I will tell him about me, how I'm defending the earth, how I'm fulfilling his destiny as a hero. And I will listen for him in the wind, telling me that he is proud of me.

In silent accord, the seven Talents began to expand into their Talent. Duo stretched his as far as he could, defying the physical and mental strain it caused. His vision blurred, his violet eyes no longer dilating with the change of the light. He could vaguely make out the others. The Seventh was on her knees, barely supported by the shaky Fifth. Third and Fourth clung to each other fiercely, as if anticipating death and wanting to face it together. The Second stood stoically, but Duo could feel the exhaustion coming from him in waves. The Sixth fared no better than the rest of them, her shoulders slumped and her usually cold face slack with the exertion. But it was time for them to go after the space fortress, the Mission's heart. They were ready to attack it full out. As soon as they were all filled to capacity with the Talent, the Fifth and the Seventh would drop the barrier and in the split second they had, they would send all their Talent power into the space fortress. They had meticulously calculated the amount of power they needed to release in order to bring the fortress down, but even then, there was the margin of error. All it came down to was the one moment when they would unleash their greatest power upon one giant evil. If they failed, the earth was doomed for after the attack, none would have any strength left to fight back. But if they won.. if they won. There would be peace. Safety. With that in mind, Duo expanded as far as he could, farther than he ever had until every molecule in his body seemed to burst out of their confinement. His last thought to the Six was a command, a decisive word.

'RELEASE.'

Seven streams of Talent power soared into the atmosphere and into the space fortress. Soon, it would all be over.

The strangest thing is, I can't understand why there are only seven of us. Why only seven in a population of a billion or more? Even with a large chunk of humanity dead and missing, we had a billion people on earth. And out of that billion or so, only seven had the Talent. I figured that was the question that the scientists wanted answered. They did all types of tests on us, none of them painful or anything, but uncomfortable anyway. For the last week, I and the Six have been through genetic screens, psychological and physiological tests, emotional readings, aura reflections. I guess they need to know if there could be more of us, if they could actually produce a Talent out of science or genetic breeding or something. It's a hope that the scientists have that the Third and the Fourth would produce a kid. They have high hopes that such a progeny would be a Talent as well. But I'm digressing. I guess I just don't want to open the test results in front of me. What if it told me that I was some kind of a genetic freak? Or even worse, not even human? I must not fear the results. Let's face it, without me defending the earth, without the Six, the Mission would kill everyone and blow up the planet. Even if I was some alien bioandroid or something, the people would still need us. No need to feel like I won't get accepted or anything. As the First Talent, the only friends I have left are Quatre and Relena and even they look at me funny sometimes. So I tear open the packet and read the contents carefully. The results aren't just mine, but for all of us. The scientists tried to find what we had in common, what made us unique enough to bear the Talent. Too bad they couldn't find anything. Genetically, I'm normal as are the others. I have the rare recessive gene for my violet colored eyes, but that's not a common factor since the Seventh's hazel eyes are fairly common. We all had traumatizing events in our lives, but in the times of war, who didn't? I fought in the wars before the Mission in my gundam and saw more than I should have. I found my lover in our house, torn and.. well, let me go on. We all lost people precious to us. But so did Quatre and Relena. And countless others. None of them had the Talent. So it wasn't the genetics, it wasn't the psychological factor. Emotionally, the seven of us are so damned different that it'd be a joke to think that was the linking factor. It is the same with our aura readings. So basically, the report is telling me that despite all the testing, they had no freaking idea what makes us Talents. Whoop-dee fucking doo. So no one can tell us how we came to be Talents, or if others can become like us. Life is funny like that, I guess. I wonder what Heero would say about me. I know for certain he'd still love me. Hell, he'd love me even if I was covered in leprous sores from head to toe and I came from a distant planet. But what would he think? It still matters to me, after all these years, what he would think of me. Why? Because when I see him again, I want him to be proud of me. I want to look him in the eyes and say 'hey, lover, I made a difference.'

As soon as Duo opened his eyes and saw the relieved faces of Quatre and Relena, he knew that they had won. He was in his room, hooked up to an IV and a heart monitor. The sun was out. Everyone was still alive. They had won. But he had to make sure.

"Quat.. Relena.. We won, right?"

His voice croaked like a rusty hinge, but it made his friends smile. Not the small, sad smiles he was used to from them. The smiles bestowed upon him were bright, joyous, practically beaming with ecstasy and freedom. He had not seen anyone smile like that in a long time.

"We won, Duo. No, you and the Six won. The space fortress is gone. Completely obliterated! Nothing left! The left over ships exploded when the shockwave from the Mission's fortress hit them. The Third assured us that nothing was left anywhere. It's finally over."

Over. That one word rang in Duo's brain over and over again like a mantra, each repetition bringing more peace to his heart. After all those years of fighting, after losing friends, it was over. The Mission was gone. He felt his face stretch into a smile.

"No more fighting. No more fear. Shit, I don't know what to do now."

"There is nothing for you to do now." Relena said quietly. "Just rest, Duo. You deserve it."

Once again, the world faded as sleep overcame Duo. However, this time, he slept peacefully without the fear and the burden which had lain upon his soul for twenty years.

The night is too quiet, too silent. The lack of noise makes my mind wander, the blinking lights of my small clock beating in time with every thought. I'm lonely, laying here all by myself. Sure, I've been sleeping alone for nearly ten years now, but that doesn't make me any less lonely when the night falls so silent. I envy Quatre and Trowa, the two love birds who have managed to survive so far and still manage to find time to love each other. They are beautiful to see, but they make my heart ache more and more. Heero is always on my mind, but when they come within my visual range, I feel the loss more. Like now, I wonder, is the world really worth defending? Just the other day, a massive riot broke out over in the southeastern region of Africa and more than four thousand died. With the food shortage, everyone is killing. These riots happen more often than they should, each causing more and more casualties and unneeded rifts between people. We have a death threat literally looming over us, and we are too busy killing each other over food to band together. So I have to wonder, am I really defending something worthwhile? I know Heero would say yes, but he hasn't seen this world. He hasn't seen the damage we're doing to each other while I and the Six risk our sanity and our lives to defend them. I'm just getting so tired again. And quiet nights like this make me tired more than ever. I have no one to fight for personally. The Third and the Fourth fight for each other and their child. Sure, their child has exhibited no signs of the Talent, but it makes no difference to them. The kid is their life. Same for the Fifth and the Seventh. I swear, they are like father and daughter. The Second fights for his family who are safely stowed away in a high security complex and the Sixth is finally getting married to that silly general who courted her for a solid year. Everyone has someone to fight for except me. Quatre and Relena, yes I love them, but they have others whom they love more. Not me. It was always Heero for me and it always will be. So I think of giving up the fight. I'm weak. I have moments when I just want to give in and slip into death. But I won't. Why? Why indeed.

"Man, too good to be true, I knew it. I fucking knew it."

Duo paced in his office while the Six, Quatre and Relena looked at him awkwardly. It had been only a week since the great victory over the Mission and the celebrations were still going on outside. But in this office, there was great tension. Again.

"I'm sorry, First Talent, but we couldn't have ever stopped this. It was never anticipated."

Duo snarled at the Second's coldly analytical voice. He knew that the Second was right, but it did not make him feel any better.

"So, what can we do?"

The Sixth was focused on the solution, not the problem. Her mind was already processing the information and picking through possibilities. She would find a solution if no one else could.

"As far as we know, the dimensional anomaly was on earth. So someone from the Mission got through the barrier in that half second you dropped it. It was just one, though, from the size of the hole in the subspace. The best thing would be-"

Quatre was cut off suddenly by the Seventh who started speaking in a trance. Her Talent was strong with looking into the time stream, seeing the past, glimpsing the future. And it always manifested in a trance.

"One sent back in time to fix a wrong. One in time to set it right."

Duo had had enough with the riddles. In frustration, he stalked up to the Seventh and shook her by her shoulders, incoherently yelling for an explanation. He was pulled off her roughly by the Fifth.

"I don't care if you are the First. You do that again, I'll kill you."

Duo dusted himself off and apologized to the Seventh and begged understanding with his pleading eyes. The Seventh shrugged and explained her vision.

"Well, First Talent, it seems that someone or something from the Mission managed to go into the past. For what purpose, I do not know, but it most likely isn't for our own good. We must send someone to follow."

"How the hell are we supposed to travel back in time? None of us has that Talent!"

"Calm down Duo. We may be able to.. the machinery was left behind."

Stunned yet calm, Duo turned to face Relena. A way back in time. Something he had dreamed of for a long time.

"How long back in time."

"The scientists say twenty years ago."

Duo did not even hesitate.

"I'm going."

I'm not much of a singer, but I can't stop myself. Right now, I'm singing Heero's favorite song in my off-tune voice, scaring off the birds in the willow tree. Well, I'm not really singing. I'm actually belting out words that I don't really know the meaning to. Damn Japanese lyrics. But I'm singing it because Heero sang it after every battle we won. And today, we achieved the greatest victory ever. We won. The Mission is gone. And no more use for me, the First Talent. I'm free to go to him any time I want. But Heero would not be glad to see me if I left too quickly. He'd want me to stick around and make sure everyone was okay and dandy before I said my final farewells. So I'll live a little while longer, or a lot while longer. I will live as long as it takes to fulfill his dreams.

Duo clicked on the small machine strapped to his wrist much like a watch and tapped in the coordinates. The scientists stood behind a thick glass wall surrounded by equipment and eyed him owlishly. Duo smiled his biggest one and then pushed the 'go' button. He was going back in time. Twenty years. Before Heero died. Before the Mission came. In the past, he would fix everything. When the gauge on the watch filled to the top and blinked red, Duo unleashed his Talent and sent an intense energy wave into it. The machine fired up and he felt dizzy. He knew soon, he would pass out and wake up somewhere in the past if this thing worked right. If not, well, whatever. He was going to find that Mission bastard in the past, take care of him, save Heero and the world.

"I'm coming to save you Heero. Wait for me."

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