Broken Horizons – Vol 13, Interlude 1

Gabriel Santiago

Space was mending.

That the shattered and torn pieces of the galaxy were healing at all was a miracle beyond belief. That they were being restored so fast that Gabe saw an entire solar system swirling back into existence was something even harder to believe.

And yet in the soft glow of the system’s distant star, he felt a radiant peace reaching out across the cosmos.

“You still with me Gabe,” Luna asked over the comm connection they’d kept active as she navigated the newly restored byways of hyperspace.

“Always,” he said, resting his head against the backrest of his pilot’s seat.

“So, did we die and go to heaven or did heaven come to us?” Luna asked.

He could hear the awe in her voice. 

“I’m orbiting a gas giant with the most beautiful rings I’ve ever seen,” Gabe said. “It wasn’t here five minutes ago. I watched it being, I don’t know, born? So, I’m going to go with yes.”

“Have you seen the global channels?” Luna asked.

He hadn’t. The only thing he’d taken his eyes off Volkis IV’s rebirth for was to glance at the spatial displays where Luna’s ship was a tiny yellow dot closing with his own. A quick glance at the comms display showed the global channels were going absolutely ballistic.

“It’s like a fire hose of text, what are they all saying?” Gabe asked.

“We’re not alone,” Luna said. “This is happening everywhere. To everyone!”

Gabe blinked. 

“But they couldn’t have all beaten all the War Beasts that were out there right when we did, can they?” he asked.

“Not at exactly the same time,” Luna said. “I think we got World’s First on that, but yeah, they did.”

“How? We only managed it through total luck!” Gabe said.

His ship was operating at 1.5% capacity with all recovery modules flatlined thanks to the ridiculous maneuvers he’d put it through. Luna’s was at 2.25% and she was only marginally better off because her tactics had involved a warp jump that she’d timed slightly better than Gabe had. They’d each spent their entire payload of weapons, exhausted all their energy stores, and even performed some generally suicidal tricks with overloading and imploding their “spare” warp engines.

Ships, as a rule, do not have spare warp engines. What they do have were warp engines that could be jettisoned in the case of catastrophic emergencies. Engineering those emergencies had given them the last bits of firepower they’d needed to destroy the Warp Beast. 

Except it had been more than that.

Right before their final run, Gabe’s sensors had reset, flatlining for a second as though there was nothing in the universe outside his ship only to return with a fresh target lock on the War Beast’s central core.

Even with that Gabe hadn’t expected their final strike to work. They and Astra’s bomber group had dished out enough damage to the War Beast to kill ten of the largest capital ships in the galaxy. By Gabe’s calculations they could have even put a dent in a Crystal Star. The War Beast though had been undeterred. 

It had lost some of its superstructure. It had roared and writhed as though the moon-shattering explosions had hurt it but it’s attacks had only grown more powerful and their scans had shown that it’s inner structure was unaffected.

The final run had been an act of pure defiance more than a strategy for victory.

And yet they’d won anyways.

“They’re saying there are messages coming in from Earth,” Luna said. “There were disasters there too.”

“Disasters?” Gabe sat up in his seat. He’d been so consumed by the battle before them he’d forgotten there even was another world he called home.

“Yeah. Really bad stuff it sounds like. Rains of fire, absolute zero blizzards in the desert, literal zombies!” Luna didn’t sound worried about of those ideas. In fact she sounded rather giddy.

“Zombies?” Gabe asked, trying to wrap his head around the Earth, the real world having an actual zombie apocalypse to deal with.

“Yeah. Oh, several different kinds of zombies I guess,” Luna said.

“That’s bad, isn’t it?” Gabe asked.

“Terrible. End of the world stuff. Except…”

“Except what?”

“It stopped?”

“Define ‘stopped’?”

“They won. The people I mean, not the zombies.”

“What about the rain of fire, and the death blizzard, and all that?”

“Someone beat those too? I am not following this, but people are cheering about it and they’re so happy it’s ridiculous! I can help smiling too!” Luna said, and Gabe could hear the joy and relief in her voice.

He wanted to see her so badly in that moment.

“Hey, do you see that?” he asked as a new sensor contact appeared on his display.

“What…oh, a ring station? But this system is uninhabited? What’s a ring station doing here?”

“Claiming some prime real estate,” Astra said over their comms. The backtrace on her signal showed it originated from the moon-sized ring-shaped station that had appeared in standard space a few moments earlier.

“Did…did you just warp that in here?” Gabe asked.

“It was laying around in Hyper Space,” Astra said. “I figured the people inside would be happier here, so, yeah.”

With the galaxy nearly being torn to pieces, Gabe wasn’t exactly surprised that even a structure as large as a ring station could have been cast into warp space. In fact, since warp space took marginally less damage than standard space, the ring station had likely been safer there than trying to survive the galaxy-wide battle that had raged against the War Beasts.

“Anyways, plot a course to us,” Astra said. “You two have definitely earned the R&R, and I’ve got a suite set aside from ya already.”

Gabe noted the use of the word ‘suite’ rather than ‘suites’ but refused to consider the distinction. His crush had become something hopelessly deeper but he was not going to make even the first assumption that it would be returned. That’s what a nice dinner and a long conversation was for.

“Sounds good to me. How about you Gabe?” Luna asked.

“Punching in the course now,” Gabe said.

As he did though, he noticed another destination listed in his nav comp. 


Even just looking at it, he could feel a pull tugging him back home.

“Luna, are you seeing a new destination in your list?” he asked.

“Yeah. I think it’s giving us a chance to head home,” she said, her voice distant as though her mind was already wandering back across the worlds.

“Do you want to go?” he asked, feeling unexpectedly at peace with the question.

“You know what?” she said, her voice clearing. “I think I’d like to stay. That is if you’ll be here?”


Brendan was crying, sobbing on his hands and knees, and he’d never been happier. Behind him, Mrs. Yu hung up on a call with a “Yes, he’ll be fine. This has just been a long day for us all.”

As understatements went that deserved an award.

“They’re okay,” Brendan said, drying his eyes and fighting to get his breathing under control.

‘They’ didn’t need an explanation. He wasn’t the only one who’d broken down in tears as the reports from around the world came flooding in. ‘They’ were the people who’d been lost. The ones who stood before the ends of the world, who’d held the line when all they could buy was another minute or another second. 

Those minutes and seconds had been enough though.

The world had died, the sun had vanished and the stars had faded away, but Earth’s peoples hadn’t given up. Not the ones Brendan had been connected to.

It had looked like there was no way back, no future to hope for, and no one to answer their calls for help.

So they’d helped each other.

In a circle of voices that leapt around the world, they’d been part of something so much greater than any one of them. Some of them had fallen, lost to worlds unknown but saving so many more through their bravery. 

Then the final monster had emerged.

The beast had shattered the planet, breaking out of the mantle like the Earth was nothing more than an eggshell.

And they’d stopped it.

It hadn’t been a prayer. Prayers imply there is some distance between the supplicant and the divine. That the person in prayer must express their love and devotion in order to come into communion with a holy presence.

As the world crumbled, the people who were knit together and fighting to save it found that they’d already bridged that distance in the bounds they’d woven between themselves.

And then an actual goddess showed up.

{Wow, that was close}” {Gaia} said and the whole world felt her relief.

The Final Armageddon Beast had roared into the cosmos and tried to sink its fangs into her.

That was a mistake.

{Gaia}, it turned out, had returned from her trip through death with quite a bit more wisdom than she’d had before. Wisdom which included the exact knowledge for how to deal with Oblivion Remnants like the Armageddon Beast.

Her presence was also slightly larger, no longer constrained to the terrestrial sphere the life she represented was born from, she extended outwards to everywhere that life had touched, or even imagined.

Against a cosmos striding deity of that caliber, the Final Armageddon Beast was a rather small and insignificant little worm, and everyone who had fought for her watched through Gaia’s eyes as she peeled it from the broken shell of the Earth, gently wound the planet back together and called her missing children home.

Brendan hadn’t believed the vision at first. Almost no one had.

But then the reports had started coming in. From Brisbane, from Cairo, from San Paolo, from Beijing. The people who’d carried away the nightmares? The people who’d been struck down by them? The people who’d been lost before they ever knew the monsters could be fought? They all started coming back.

In some cases they reappeared where they’d vanished. In others, their shattered and broken bodies wound back, returning to full health, or vanished as well and were replaced by incarnations that were often better than they ones they’d had!

But not everyone returned.

There was a class of people who’d tried to cease power in the chaos. No one was sure where they’d gone to. 

Another category had attempted to profit off the misery and fear that had swept the world. Even the instances where those people had survived the world breaking resulted in strange and inexplicable disappearances as the planet was restored. 

And, lastly, there were those with whom connections had been re-established but who were choosing, for the present at least, to remain in the worlds they’d traveled to.

Brendan took his neighbor Jaquim’s hand and let himself be pulled to his feet…and into a tight hug.

“You did it man,” Jaquim said, squeezing him fiercely.

“We did it,” Brendan said as at least a dozen other people joined the group hug.

They were neighbors and friends of neighbors and people Brendan could only assume were a part of his world. In the mad rush to coordinate everyone and keep the world together, they and so many countless others had come together and become something more than they’d ever been before.

Or ever world be again.

The thought brought a fresh wave of pain to Brendan’s heart. 

How could he miss the end of the world? How damaged was he?

Incredible so, he had to guess, but he could see where his grief was coming from. Only some of it was the mountain of stress he’d been buried under. The rest was that despite the bounds they’d formed, everyone here would drift away over time. 

They wouldn’t forget each other, or ever be as distant as they had been before, but the intense connection they’d shared? That would fade. It would have to. And there was a part of him that was going to miss it. A part that yearned for a connection that deep. A part that yearned for…

A woman tapped him on the shoulder.

“I don’t suppose you’ve got any hugs like that left in you still?” Mellisandra asked, her arms open and waiting.

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