25. So Far Away
From Home

Krayer felt his life flashing before his eyes. It wasn't a pretty picture. There were so many regrets, and he was not accustomed to feeling sorry for the paths he'd chosen. He had done what he had to do in his life, and for that reason, he felt he owed no explanations to anyone.

But something was wrong here. Deadly wrong.

He was sure he was about to meet his Maker.

He was hurtling through space, not quite himself, not quite anything at the moment, just disembodied photonic energy. That particular sensation was not what was troubling him. He'd experienced it many times before, and after the first few he'd gotten over the disconcerting uneasiness of existing as trillions of separate conscious bits of energy. He'd more than mastered the ability to keep his existence coordinated while in this flux between the here and now and the then and there.

But now all of the many parts of him were cascading down the disintegrating matter lines, and his coordinated control was slipping away, and his chances of rematerializing were growing slimmer.

He'd plotted the matter lines himself. There was no way that he could have made this error. Someone had sabotaged the mission. And he was to suffer the eternal consequences.

"Calm yourself!" Krayer commanded the trillions of specks of consciousness that together made him who he was. He felt the self-assurance washing through his existence. The calculated, collected, calmness that he knew so well.

He set his mind in motion, plotting, calculating, deducing...He drew upon the knowledge and the reasoning resources he'd honed and perfected over a lifetime of honing and perfecting.

Then, without a Plotter, without any tools at all, he reconstructed the matter lines. Of course he knew it was a one-way ticket. Whoever had done this had removed any chance of his return. Certain death was surely awaiting him there. He could feel it.

But he knew his coordinates. He knew his destination. He knew himself.

In the blink of an eye, Krayer was standing in a field, at the exact coordinates he'd originally planned to be, completely whole, completely calm, but 200 million light years from home.

Krayer felt a wave of proudness surging inside -- He hadn't really been sure he could rescue himself under those circumstances. But he quickly stifled his emotions.

He didn't deny this surge of self-worth because of his stoic nature, although his refusal to allow himself to feel anything may have initiated this response. But it was not behind the murdering intensity that put it to rest.

It wasn't because he was stranded so far away from home, either. No place had really ever been home to him, and so one place was just as good as another, even if this particular place was on the other side of the universe.

It wasn't because he had figured out who had done this to him. He had known who it was as soon as he felt the matter lines disintegrating as he sped through space towards his destination on Earth. He knew right away that it was Barek.

He had watched Barek's face for months, but he had detected nothing. Not until he was no longer himself, as his hopes for rematerializing had begun to disappear, and he was able to see his life from an infinite scope of perspectives, did it all become so obvious.

In that moment of clarity, he saw behind all the veiled gestures. He saw beyond all the words of admiration. And he was certain without a doubt that Barek knew all about Krayer's relationship with Drea, Barek's wife.

It was a simple revenge, and an ingenious one. Krayer had to give Barek credit for that. Barek had performed more than a work of technical genius, he had done it all without Krayer even suspecting. He had worked his plot into the Master Plotter's program, masked and hidden in a way that even Krayer's cold, meticulous reasoning had not detected. A true masterpiece of deception, for which Krayer could only feel admiration and respect. No, that was not what was now sending a shiver through Krayer's existence once again.

His fear was due to the case suctioned to his chest. The black case was small -- small enough to fit into his fist. But it was big enough to destroy this entire planet, this entire galaxy. And it would. In two days.

And he was stuck here forever.

Krayer had often faced death during his life. But he had never feared, for he was in tune with his Fate.

He had the gift of Vision. Earlier in life he hadn't realized that it had been the key to all his mercenary successes. He just knew that in those other instances, death was not awaiting him. Not yet. But now he felt the black box near his heart, and he knew without a doubt that death was finally near.

It seemed so ironic that he should die for love, the Achilles heel he'd always been so careful to deny before. He knew that Fate had tried to teach him all his life to be hardened to kindness and love, and not to let anyone near. It had tried to ready him for that moment when love's arrow would try to pierce his Achilles tendon. But he had ignored his life lessons. And he had been tricked not once but twice, and for this irony, the greatest of all his sins, was he now doomed.

His first sin was falling for Drea. He could not understand now, so far from her grasp, how she had bent his will, made him putty in her hands. He had been but a slave to her, and he had gladly risked his life so many times for her whims.

Then Barek had broken down his walls of protection. Barek had doted on him, treated him like the father he had never known. Barek had helped him climb from wanton mercenary to Master Plotter. Barek had nurtured all the raw energy that burned inside him and helped him to focus it into a power that seemed invincible.

Then he discovered, just a few short months ago, that Drea was Barek's wife, and he felt hatred for himself. How could he do this to the only two people he had ever loved. How could he not have known?

But the predicament brought him to his senses for the first time in a long time. He quickly assured himself that it was Fate's just punishment for his allowing either of them get close to him.

Krayer's thoughts returned once again to the foreign soil that was to claim him. He took a deep breath of the strange air, and he suddenly realized that the deception was so much greater than he had thought.

It wasn't just a simple plot of revenge -- They had planned this from the beginning!

Was it not Drea who had brought him into the Circle in the first place? Was it not because of her that Barek was introduced to him? And it was Barek who brought him before the Council. Convinced them that Krayer was the only one who could find a way to cross the universe in time to stop a future that the Visionaries had foreseen. A future that promised destruction for their kind, destruction, if another race of life was allowed to live.

Barek, a Visionary himself, had seen Krayer's potential, had known that he was the chosen one. And had used love and kindness to manipulate him from the start.

What a fool he had been to think that he was invincible. He was just a pawn in some terrible political plot. All his power and talent were only the means to carry out this horrific act of genocide.

Anger swept through him, turning into self-hatred. He felt his control slipping away. His emotions were running wild. He felt dizzy. He felt sick. His life flashed before his eyes for the second time as consciousness evaded him, and he passed out.



©: 1992-2015 Robert Alan Silverstein

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