CHAPTER 35 – II
Metalize or genocide? Exactly one hundred years after Aricame utilized the (until then) greatest force in human history to destroy Janifer Pompea and Victor Strife (and, unknowingly at the time, tens of thousands more), the century-long quest to resolve the otherworldly power struggle came to an end. Aricame and Stievo/Cai-Ream had sought for ways to destroy their Other with this great power without leaving themself vulnerable to the instantaneous counter attack that was sure to follow. Perfecting their skills and ever-increasing their abilities to harness the lives/energy of others toward their own destructive ends, it was an endless exercise with no off-ramps. That is, until they realized what it was all leading to. The ability to manipulate the physical world to their own ends – the skills that had been built upon for five hundred generations – were laid bare when their entire history was understood as one single event, as if time could be viewed as past/present/future simultaneously. The two Champions were left with two options: metalize or genocide.
Genocide they had known too well. Should they risk an all-out attack, then every source of life’s energy that was within reach of the Champion’s powers would be taken and transformed into a force for annihilation. It was assumed that the targeted Champion would be shattered into the cosmos, though not before they had the fraction of a fraction of a second needed to launch a counter strike. Even if both survived, they would cease to be Champions because there would not be enough life left on earth from which the Champions could draw their strength. This was their mutual double bind.
To metalize was the revelation. The insight gleaned from viewing all of Championship history as one unit – a collection of symbols – was that they now possessed the ability to fully separate their essence from their corporeal form, as Stievo had done when decapitated by the VS Board. But, whereas Stievo/Cai-Ream continued to feed off of earth’s life to survive, the Champions could now concentrate their power into a dense enough point to forge a new metal, an element otherwise unknown in the universe: IRRIMMIUM. They need merely to transmute themselves and then humanity, for the first time since civilization began, would be rid of its Champions and would be left to follow its own path.
Two paths: the Champions eradicate themselves or they eradicate themselves and most of the life on earth. What was still unknown was what would happen if one Champion became irrimmium and the other was left standing. The books provided no hint to the answer, as if that was not even an option?
For Aricame, the choice was clear. Transmutation was the only chance for homo sapiens. Victory for Light was not attainable. But what of his Other? He was unable to make Cai-Ream’s choice for him. Cai-Ream would be less likely to come to the same conclusion. Aricame had to have hope, however, for hope was what kept humanity striving forward. It was hope that defined him as the Champion of Light. And should Cai-Ream choose the alternate path and eviscerate the world, Aricame found himself truly and fully at peace with the impermanence of life. He did what he could and accepted the rest. Time is long.
Cai-Ream, certain of what Aricame would do, lost all control. It is unclear which Champion initiated the process first. Fearful of life without the purpose provided by his Other, and hateful of a life’s mission that could end in such an inglorious manner, Cai-Ream succumbed to those emotional trademarks that defined him as the Champion of Dark. Irrimmium be damned, and life along with it!
Shock waves circled the globe, crashing into each other and ricocheting into chaotic-seeming-yet-intricately-geometric patterns. Virtually everything was leveled. So sudden was it that very few suffered, they just no longer existed. 99% of human life ended right then, along with significant numbers of animal, plant, fungal, protistial, and bacterial life. Cai-Ream had intended to harness this energy and fire it squarely upon Aricame before he could transmute, however the insanely immense amount of energy that was embodied within his own physical being was too much to contain and it collapsed in on itself, forming a micro-black hole that swallowed up all that had been absorbed. All that life was simply gone.
Silence…a black hole that could balance on the head of a needle hung suspended above a crater…stillness…a perfect white sphere lay like a grain of sand upon the earth, pure irrimmium…sedulous…the life that remained was left to decide whether or not to endure.
Evil is the termination of play in unheard silence
To eliminate, regardless of rules, is true violence
Good, it is said, can be found in playing perpetually
Those who play, even for their own lives, choose to do so freely