After work, Dawn dragged her exhausted body back to the fort. As was her habit she stopped by Cloudhawk’s room to see if he was there. As usual, the room was empty.
It’d been days since anyone had seen him. He hadn’t even appeared for the last several council meetings.
She sought out the last person to see him, Hellflower, and asked for information. The tart didn’t know anything, she just said he was looking for a solution to the food crisis. Because of how serious the situation had become, it was not strange that he would disappear while searching for a solution, or so she claimed.
It sure didn’t seem that being a grand hero was fun work.
Everyone considered Cloudhawk a savior; from the ugliest mutants, to the humblest scav, to the most brilliant Seeker. It took half a dozen years of wandering, suffering and growth, but finally Cloudhawk stepped up to accept his destiny.
Dawn wasn’t fooled. Cloudhawk put on a strong face but he felt the pressure everyone put on his shoulders. Changing the world wasn’t easy, and he had to keep his eyes on Skycloud the whole time. But behind all that, Mount Sumeru loomed like an ominous shadow, a variable no one could predict. Cloudhawk may have powers no one else had, but he wasn’t an omniscient god. The burden he carried went far beyond what people could imagine.
Both Wolfblade and Cloudhawk knew the threat that lurked just out of sight. That’s why plans for urbanization had to go forward, even if the lack of resources was a serious problem to overcome.
Dawn removed her armor and flopped onto her bed. Thoughts of Cloudhawk swam through her mind, along with other Green Alliance matters. She tossed and turned, unable to sleep. It was a trend that started ever since she defected to Greenland. Her one-track mind now grappled with more and more uncertainty, responsibility and concerns. Her thoughts were on a loop. Once, life to her had been simple and straightforward. Now she couldn’t stop thinking long enough to get some rest.
It was because she wasn’t good enough.
She felt like she was only useful in clearing rubble for building projects. Day in and day out it was grueling work, reforming the ground and raising stone for construction. She couldn’t lead a research team, like Hellflower. She was making new and useful creations all the time. She didn’t have the strength or leadership experience that Vulkan or the Khan had, either. She certainly didn’t have a mind like Wolfblade’s to coordinate the whole alliance and keep a stable peace with the Elysians.
She felt suffocated by an invisible pressure. It was fear. Fear that one day she would stop being useful to Cloudhawk. What was her worth to the Green Alliance? What was her worth to him?
It wasn’t that she expected him to push her aside. Dawn was a proud woman. More than ever before she wanted to prove her worth. She wanted to be invaluable to Cloudhawk, because it was the only way she could see value in herself.
It didn’t matter if there was no going back from the road they walked. She would follow Cloudhawk to the end.
Dawn acknowledged she wasn’t the most excellent of Cloudhawk’s followers, but she could pound her chest and swear loudly to be the purest, most resolved, most fearless of the women by his side. She would happily sacrifice anything to support him. Who else could make such a claim?
Fuck it. If sleep won’t come, then I won’t sleep.
Dawn felt like her mental fortitude was recovered enough, she wasn’t going to waste time rolling around in bed. So she put back on her armor, strapped Terrangelica to her back and made her way to the new city.
Morning had arrived, bathing the wastes in light. The air was hot. Facing a tract of ruins, Dawn stabbed Terrangelica into the ground. She’d decided to clear away as much debris as possible so that when the others awakened they could get right to work.
However, as she was preparing to start a strange sound caught her ear. She thought it odd, since it was too early for the use of any work equipment. It was unlikely to be animals, either. A number of casualties over the last few days inspired soldiers to clear out nearby dens. They wouldn’t have missed a nest.
Dawn hefted her sword and headed toward the source of the noise. When she arrived there were no animals, as expected. Instead there was a building she hadn’t seen before.
It was about three meters tall and rather than a building it looked more like a giant pot. Strange symbols and patterns were scrawled onto the surface but it lacked the typical signs of manufacture.
A dark figure stood on the lip of the building. Cloudhawk!
She wanted to call out but swallowed her words. He was in the process of measuring something and she didn’t want to interrupt. Instead Dawn watched quietly as he worked.
He was stooped over something, checking carefully to make sure all was as it should be. He then straightened up, and upon raising his hands an incredible scene emerged. A storm was summoned right above them, funneling air into the cauldron-like building. The air condensed into water – fresh, clean water! Every passing second the volume and speed of creation rose.
In fifteen seconds there was a hundred tons of water caught in the tower, lapping at the edges.
How could Dawn be anything but shocked? It was enough water to supply a mid-sized settlement for several months at least! Water was one of the rarest and most precious resources of the wastelands and here was Cloudhawk, summoning it out of thin air!
If he could really make water from nothing, what problem was insurmountable? What Dawn didn’t realize was that Cloudhawk had known she was there the moment she arrived. He turned to face her when his test was complete.
“What do you think? Think the water generator’s alright?”
“More than alright!” Dawn hurried over to the foot of the building. She patted the structure and fawned over it like some great treasure. “Shit! If you ask me, it’s worth more than a division of ten thousand soldiers!”
The Green Alliance had already invented a water purification device. It was used primarily to filter and reuse sewage, but gathering contaminated water in this environment was a slow process. Purifiers alone weren’t enough to support growth and expansion. But this thing, it was making water where there was none! And in huge amounts!
“How the hell did you make this thing?” Dawn looked it over, thought for a moment, then nodded. “Ten of these and the city will never have to worry about water.”
Cloudhawk introduced his newest creation. “It’s a very simple relic that amplifies mental energy. It’s function and construction are not complicated, and the results are straightforward. It gathers material from the air, adjusts its resonance and changes its structure. In the end you have water.”
The device was a recent development. Two years ago Cloudhawk had begun experimenting with making his own relics, but the process was not a smooth one. He was playing with methods humans had never understood. No theory or science could explain how it worked.
He had to learn from trial and error. Over time he learned how to make crude exorcist rods, then Mornshield and Mornarrow rings. They were simple, with decent attack and defensive capabilities, respectively. He’d succeeded in making a fine class of wearable relics both functional and convenient.
But for relics of a higher grade, or more complex? To this day Cloudhawk lacked the understanding to make them. However, inspired by Azura’s gumption, Cloudhawk had decided to find a novel way to solve a serious problem. Mankind’s science had failed. Why not turn to the methods of gods and demons?
Cloudhawk found it difficult to build combat-oriented relics. The energy and structure required were extremely… segmented, was the only way to describe it. But if he was making something with a singular purpose that was not meant to cause harm, the process became far simpler. The ‘relic’ demanded much less, and thus was much easier to produce!
Cloudhawk explained. “I designed it so that any demonhunter can make water. It’s been equipped with psychic pearls as an energy source. So long as the pearls contain energy anyone can make water when needed, in case there aren’t any demonhunters available.”
The biggest problem had been handily solved! Dawn was stunned by the results.
Cloudhawk saw her shock. “This reservoir is just the beginning. All we need is the creativity to come up with the right approach and we can create anything from nothing. Even plants and flowers and things like that.”
“So what’s your next step?” Dawn asked.
“I want to make these reservoir’s smaller. I also want to make different kinds; for example, one that turns sand into fertilized soil. Once we change the desert into rich farmland, wastelanders can tend their own fields. In fifty or a hundred years we can really transform this place into the green world it once was!”
“Is this really possible?”
“Absolutely. It only requires our mental strength.”
Once she got over the shock, Dawn lapsed into a contemplative silence. Cloudhawk couldn’t help but notice. “What, you don’t believe me?”
“No, of course I believe you. I’m just thinking...” Dawn regarded the reservoir with a conflicted look in her eyes. “It’s an amazing sort of power. I can’t imagine the sort of society that would come from such a discovery.”
Humanity would be able to transform reality with nothing but their minds. Relics were templates for tools and methods. For over a thousand years most Elysians saw relics as tools of war. What she saw before her was the reality that it could transform all facets of life.
In other words, the one who mastered these methods would have unlimited power over creation. Old legends were filled with people trying to change lead into gold, but with this technology it would be laughably mundane.
Cloudhawk’s face was serious. “It would be a divine society.”
It was amazing. Cloudhawk – with only limited understanding – was finding ways to transform the world. Indeed what would a society that mastered this incredible power look like? Cloudhawk had answered that question. It would look like the gods.
The Green Alliance and humanity as a whole would soon come into conflict with those divine. Perhaps the Cloud God made its compromise with Wolfblade because it viewed the humans are nothing more than ants, harmless and lost. Their struggles were hopeless and doomed to failure, below the god’s concern.Previous Chapter Next Chapter