THE LAST HOPE (Final Draft)
Copyright © 2021 by Edmund J. Janas, II
Published by Brego Arts & New Media Network
Fibian had been entranced within his Mindsphere, where he witnessed the projections of Angazia’s remarkable feats over the past year. Among several contenders from the House of Delphi, he harbored absolute certainty that she would be the chosen one.
The sun hung low in the sky, casting a warm golden glow over the Amazon village, a stark contrast to the tension that gripped Angazia’s heart. Today marked the culmination of her dreams, the initiation day that would define her destiny. She stood before the grand assembly, her armor gleaming in the sunlight, determined eyes fixed on the Queen’s Guard, the pinnacle of warriorhood. The whispers of elders and the awe in the eyes of her peers spoke volumes about the weight of her decision. As she exchanged a fleeting, meaningful glance with her mother, Council Mother’s words resounded in her ears. ‘Angazia, your path to the Queen’s Guard hinges on three labors, each grander than the last, all to be witnessed by the world through the Biferon.
Inwardly, Angazia’s heart raced as she confronted her first labor—a test that stirred fear deep within her. Her eyes remained fixed on the holographic images projected by the Biferon, each frame capturing the relentless brutality of mutant fisher cats hunting down innocent children. She gritted her teeth, determined not to show weakness, for she knew the consequences were dire. Excommunication or death awaited any Amazon Warrior who faltered in the face of such trials. The mutant beasts, with their pitch-black forms and agonizing wails, haunted her nightmares. Their hooked barbs, designed to pierce flesh and deliver paralyzing toxins, were the stuff of chilling legends, and now they were her reality.
If any creature could send shivers down Angazia’s spine, it was the mutant fisher cats, grotesque monstrosities standing an intimidating twelve feet tall on their hindquarters. The haunting wails of these monsters echoed through Angazia’s mind. She had seen their ruthlessness, watched them impale children and shred flesh. They paralyzed prey, and they fed relentlessly, and never sated. Now they were her first labor.
“ANGAZIA, YOUR FIRST LABOR IS TO KILL THIS ABOMINATION!”
Mother’s voice carried the weight of the challenge as she pointed to the colossal dark beast before them.Angazia’s response was a simple, “Yes, Mother,” her voice brimming with determination. To Angazia’s own surprise, the confrontation with the mutant beast unfolded smoothly, a testament to her resourcefulness.
She carefully enticed the creature, guiding it into the confines of a hidden underpass within the cavern, utilizing its mate’s scent as bait. Then, with a calculated precision that belied the chaos of the moment, she unleashed a devastating energy blast upon the rocky ridge above. The resulting cascade of boulders and debris rained down upon the monstrous duo, crushing the beast in the abyss below.In the aftermath, stunned silence reigned as the magnitude of Angazia’s swift victory sank in. It was the most dramatic feat that hadn’t been witnessed in recent memory, and it sent shockwaves through the Amazon ranks. Mother’s pride in her daughter’s accomplishment was evident as she praised Angazia for bringing honor to the House of Delphi and paying homage to the whims of fate.
Then, as if the very fates themselves had orchestrated it, an unexpected turn of events occurred in the dead of night. The Eye of Biferon, drawn by the resounding acclaim, soared up to Angazia’s encampment, an omen of destiny in the making.
The night was tranquil as Angazia rested peacefully, but the serenity was shattered by her own anguished screams. A synthetic burrowing worm had found its way into her leg, a calamity that she seized upon as an opportunity for dramatic flair. With calculated precision, she transformed this ordeal into a scene worthy of the Amazon Ballet, fully aware that the eyes of millions were fixated on her. In an elaborate display of showwomanship, she grasped her dagger, plunging it theatrically into her own thigh to reveal the writhing intruder beneath her flesh. “Begone, vile creature!” she cried as she extracted the worm, crushing it between her fingers while striking a dramatic pose. The creature’s pitiful cries filled the air, its synthetic fluids splattering across her face like war paint. Angazia had captivated the audience, catapulting herself into the spotlight with her gripping performance. Her name echoed through the Sister Tribes across the planet, their collective gaze locked onto her, awaiting her next act in the grand and gory spectacle. It was a captivating and chilling spectacle designed not only for entertainment but also to instill a deep-seated fear in the hearts of men, a fear that all Amazons knew was spreading among their distant audience.
With these initial trials behind her, Angazia’s path to the coveted Queen’s Guard was clear. She had but two tasks left to fulfill: to end the life of a man and to experience a vision within the sacred Womb of the Earth. The act of taking a man’s life was, in her world, a procedural necessity. For days, the presence of a trespassing cyborg had been felt on the outskirts of the forest, a transgression that could not go unpunished.
Angazia pressed deeper into the heart of the inner forest, her unwavering determination propelling her forward as she followed the telltale trail of fresh cyborg footprints. Yet, within the confines of the dense undergrowth, her unyielding pursuit was often disrupted by the intermittent clamor from the Biferon high above, a stark reminder of the world beyond her quest. As she analyzed the imposing cyborg’s gait, she couldn’t help but estimate a towering stature of no less than eight feet.
Her trek eventually led her to a vantage point on a ridge, revealing a breathtaking tableau below—a sprawling, verdant valley adorned with the ethereal cascade of a mist-shrouded waterfall. Above, the airspace came alive with a mesmerizing symphony of avian life, a diverse chorus of natural and synthetic birdsong. Angazia rested upon a fallen tree and inspected her weapons – spear, plasma cannon, retractable dagger – all in working order. She checked her armor’s energy levels and felt was ready to confront the cyborg man, the offender who dared pollute her Motherland with his stench. Confidence coursed through her; she knew that men constantly transformed their bodies, blurring the lines between flesh and machine, but having never met a man, she didn’t know what to expect.
Fibian remained hidden amidst the lush foliage far below, his view centered on Angazia. The waterfall, a majestic presence, thundered above him as mist filling the air. Angazia, perched herself high on the tree. She exuded determination, her gaze locked on the abyss below. In this serene moment of contemplation, Angazia’s thoughts drifted to the enigmatic world of men, a realm far removed from the unforgiving badlands where the exiles fought for survival. Whispers of a desolate, lifeless landscape where machines reigned supreme had reached her ears, painting a grim picture.
As these musings consumed her, a sudden warmth enveloped Angazia, a crimson mist that defied immediate understanding. In an instant, terror coursed through her veins like lightning, her feet lifted from solid ground, and an excruciating agony seared her shoulders. It was then that she realized the source of the warmth – her own blood. A strange, crimson mist began to surround her, and her confusion gave way to terror.
In that agonizing moment of realization, Angazia understood the true horror: the Pyron’s appendage had pierced her shoulder. Pain surged through her, and her screams of agony reverberated through the valley, mixing with the roar of the waterfall. Above, the Pyron descended for its kill, casting its colossal shadow all around her. Its vortex of swirling debris created chaos as panic swept over Angazia.
A colossal shadow descended upon her, its obsidian wings enveloping her, conjuring a vortex of swirling dirt and leaves. Panic surged, its merciless talons crushing bone and sinew, igniting relentless agony. Her heart raced in tandem with her frantic thoughts, her piercing scream of pain echoing through the air.
The world seemed to blur as the Pyron’s massive wings. She saw a blinding blue flash from below strike the bird and it let out a death cry, she could smell burning feather and flesh as she fell away, spinning uncontrollably in a dizzying free fall. Just before the inevitable plunge into the falls below, her gaze locked onto the cyborg man standing on the riverbank, his metallic form glistening in the sunlight, his energy weapon still aglow in eerie blue. Her body struck the water and it felt like solid ice.
As Angazia teetered on the precipice of certain doom, a fleshy hand unexpectedly plunged into the icy water, offering her a lifeline she could scarcely believe. She clung to it with a mix of astonishment and desperation, feeling the warmth and determination coursing through the arm that held her. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced, a paradox of human flesh and machine. As they made their rapid escape, Fibian’s jetpack roared to life with a force that seemed to defy nature itself, hurtling them towards the horizon at an exhilarating speed that left her breathless. Every vibration, every sensation, was a revelation to her, a world she had never imagined. As the numbing embrace of unconsciousness began to envelop her, she couldn’t help but marvel at the strange safety she found in this cyborg’s grasp. For those who watched the spectacle through the gaze of the Biferon, it was an extraordinary vanishing act that etched an indelible mark on their collective memory, a breathtaking display that would linger in their thoughts for nearly three days, as both their fates became inexorably intertwined and slipped beyond the confines of the known world.
Fibian gently laid Angazia on the riverbank, her world of searing pain as he deftly manipulated her cervical spine and shoulders, the snaps and tugs echoing through her agony-filled screams. Time seemed to stretch endlessly as the torment persisted, hours melting into a torturous blur. His once-blue laser had transformed to a fiery red, working miracles as it mended bone, regenerated tendons, and restored sinew with each precise touch. She writhed in torment until, mercifully, he covered her head, granting her a reprieve from the relentless agony. Amidst gasps and coughs, she succumbed to unconsciousness.
Upon awakening, Angazia found herself in the capable hands of the cyborg once more. Without hesitation, he sprang into action, his movements a strange yet strangely comforting symphony of efficiency. As he skillfully gathered wood and conjured fire, the sound that escaped his mouth resembled music, a soothing melody that hinted at a world she had never known. In preparation for the approaching cold night, he expertly heated rocks with his hands, ensuring their warmth would provide solace against the chilling darkness. Over the course of nearly three days, the tireless cyborg became her unwavering caretaker, tending to her with an extraordinary precision and caring that she did not fully understand.
As her strength gradually returned, Angazia awakened to the sight of the elegant cyborg in motion, a display of grace as he glided effortlessly through the preparation of a meal. The tantalizing scent of fish stew wafted through the air, coaxing an audible growl from her impatient stomach. In the midst of this culinary symphony, he hummed with a profound sense of purpose, the melodious notes resonating in harmony with the simmering broth that filled the air, a testament to his culinary prowess.
As they shared a humble meal, Through projections, Fibian showed Angazia the bleak state of mankind’s realm – barren, toxic, rife with war. “Our kinds are diverging towards extinction,” he urged. “Together, we may reverse the damage before your lands also perish. But cooperation is scarce.” He implored her to unite them. Angazia was conflicted, but realized a new path was needed.
“Our soil grows nothing. Our seas harbor no fish, the water itself turned toxic. Synthetic crops wither and organic life perishes.”
His voice held great sadness. “Even machines fail as contamination spreads. Our worlds are diverging unto death. Yet combined, our technologies, resources and wisdom could reverse the damage.”
The visions shifted to war and violence beyond the Amazon lands. Men fighting men, tremendous weapons laying waste.
“Just as the divide between our peoples destroys the planet, so too does discord among my kind. Our warmaking hastens the end.”
The projections winked out, and Fibian’s glowing gaze met Angazia’s. “United, sharing our gifts, mankind and womankind could shepherd a recovery. Apart, all perish.”
He gestured to the verdant paradise around them. “Even here, the blight will find foothold. Nowhere will remain untouched.”
Angazia imagined the forests withering, the rivers flowing foul and dead. Her heart clenched.
“I know this is much to consider,” Fibian said gently. “But we must forge a new path, else all is lost. You could help unite our peoples, before it grows too late.”
Angazia stared into the distance, realizing that only together might a brave new world yet blossom. As they shared those intimate moments during Angazia’s recovery, their conversations often delved into the mysteries of their worlds. Fibian hinted at the possibility of uniting their strengths in ways that went beyond mere cooperation. He spoke of uncharted territories where technology held secrets yet untold, where their destinies might intertwine in ways no one had ever dared to imagine. In the hushed exchanges between them, a shared understanding grew, unspoken yet profound, leaving them both with a sense of purpose that extended far beyond the impending confrontation they would soon choreograph.
In the darkness of that morning, Angazia resolved and committed to their audacious plan. Angazia suddenly looked older and sadder, pursing her lips as she resignedly said, “Let’s give them a show.”
As the sun began its ascent, she and Fibian staged a dramatic confrontation, a carefully choreographed dance of combat that unfolded before the watchful eyes of the search party and the Biferon. And just as they planned, Angazia plunged her spear into Fibian’s chest and extracted his heart holding it up for the Biferon. This was an ancient tradition long forgotten, now ressurected, and the world stood still.
A reporter’s voice echoed through the airwaves: “Ooh, she got him good! Cyborg Man didn’t stand a chance against Angazia’s vicious spear attack. He tried to put up a fight there at the end with some dramatic flailing, but let’s be honest, this was never gonna be a fair match-up. Angazia dominated from start to finish. Not the strongest showing from man today, but he made it entertaining by squealing like a grizzlegrunt as he went down. The council will surely award style points for the heart extraction move – an instant classic!”
Amid the jubilant homecoming, Angazia was greeted by a young girl who spoke softly, “I loved the way the cyborg screamed when you ripped out his heart.” Angazia offered a tentative smile and patted the child’s head.
Hypatia, standing tall and regal, presented a silver chain with a heart-shaped locket to Angazia. As she chanted, the locket opened, and a vibrant green beam projected into the smoky sky. It played a vivid recap of her triumph over the mutant beast and her supposed defeat of Fibian. Scenes of exiles cheering, children rejoicing, and even the Queen observing from her royal palace filled the holographic display. “See! Our daughter has honored us!” Hypatia declared proudly.
But as Angazia donned the heart locket, Hypatia’s demeanor turned icy and pale, her joy giving way to an unsettling emptiness. Mother Amelia pushed her aside and seized the chain, shouting, “Dishonor!”
Angazia stood, drenched in sweat and panting. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks, a revelation she couldn’t explain. Amelia’s cry pierced the air, “You dishonor our house!”
The drums ceased their thundering rhythm, the cheers faded, and Council Mother arrived swiftly on a gravity board. With her staff raised high, she struck Angazia on the side of her head, plunging her into darkness and silence.
For three days, Angazia rested within the Womb of the Earth, her body gradually mending. During this time, her mothers debated her fate, torn between death and exile. At her trial, Angazia vehemently asserted her valor, attributing her tears to the physical agony she endured, not any perceived weakness or sentiment for the fallen man-machine.
The Council rendered a verdict of dishonor and sentenced her to death. However, her mother and the other sisters of her house intervened, advocating for a more lenient punishment. Angazia was offered a choice: death or exile. She chose the latter, banished to the unforgiving badlands, where she embarked on a new chapter of her life.
Nine months later, she gave birth to a son, whom she named Fibian in honor of the cyborg who had saved her life and given his own for the sake of their child’s future. And so the last hope for a doomed world let out his first cry.
As Fibian grew, Angazia recounted the story of Fibian’s noble sacrifice, weaving a tale of selflessness and hope. The young boy internalized his mother’s words, and as he matured, he emerged as a charismatic leader. His vision was clear: to unite a fractured world under the banner of peace. With determination, he embarked on a journey that would reshape the destiny of humankind, their survival dependent on balance and harmony.