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A Depraved Blessing

able of contentPro logueChapter OneChapterIwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter SixCChapter EightChapter NineChapter TenChapter eChapter TwelveChapter ThirteenChapter FourteenFifteenCeenChapter SeventeenChapter EighteenChapter NineteenChapter TwentyChapter T wenty-OneChapter I wenty-lwOChapter Twenty-ThreeChapter Twenty-FourCapterFiChapter Twenty-SixChapter I wenty- SevenChapter Twenty-EightChapter Twenty-NineChapter ThirtyEpplogue

Chapter twoRevelationsserved Dayce approaching the car, he lacked his laugh and smilethem already, fearing how little I would see those spentered the backseat without saying a word I had already come to the conclusion that I would lethim confront the news first, so I merely continued to gauge his disposition He remained in aontemp lative stateveral minutes into the drve, a sigthat was so foreign for me towitness The muteness seemed to grow between us with every sporadic glance I made to him inthe rearview mirror, which happened as much as I was safely ableFinally, after I thought he might be waiting to speak with his mother instead of me, hecouldn't help but grin a little, mainly because I was re lieved to hear his voice, but alsodue to the manner in which he stated the question It made me realize how simple the0e mirror Impacts like this are rare It could be hundreds, maybe thousands of years before thihappens againo one knows when it could happen, then?"Sometimes we can see it coming, but we have to learn not to live in fear of what couldhappen I definitely wouldnt be driving right no w if that were the case

It wouldn't be a healthySo, you're not afraid, Daddy? he asked, his mood relaxingther wouldoward would she? Her men have to be brave for herDayce, and then she wont be afraid Do you understand"I understand He settled with a smile into the plush seats of the car "I won't makeMommy worrThis was the last conversation we had that day about the calamity He was a resilient boy,and seemed, from my perspective, to be taking the tragedy rather we ll; better than I or his mothercould have hoped Taking what I said to heart, Dayce appeared to make his sole purpose to keepis mother distracted Lizeth enjo yed the unusual amount of attention her son gave her Shelistened withything he said, even wearing a wonderstruck

found endShe madhough he was d isc los ing a re vo luther, despite him just talking about his schoolwork or his favorite athletes Dayce must havelearned well from his father, seeing as Lizeth didnt seem at all anxious after we had arrivedas a good arrangement for them both Howe ver, it was soorg on him by the end of theis feet were drad to be in a constant struggle to ke went to bed earlier than customary, though not without me hoping for him to have pleasantdreams that nightNone of us were aware of what was happening on the other side of Evon We had severedany connection with the outside world after Dayce came home, so for some time we couldpretend everything was the same as before But once Dayce was asleep long enough for us toknow he would not wake up any time soon, we knew we could not a void it any longer Therethin me all throughout the day, anactualized the moment i revivedThe dawn light was just beginning to shine on the blurry city horizon of Dorvale It wasnfirmed that there was no direct strike on the city The reputed asteroid impacted they Gears Mountain Range roughly six miles away from the heart of Dorval, though no onewould have guessed it by the hectic scene

Helicopters soaring in the sky revealed the first murkyimages of the ruined cityscape, as the thick mists of dust and yellowish fumes were beginning toperse in the strong winds Most of the weaker buildings had collapsed in the shockwave,malformed into nothing more than piles of unrecognizable fragments The ones that did manageto remain standing were almost a sadder sight to behold The former embodiments of sanctuaryvere dusky and bleak, nothing but thin streaks of flashlights gleamed through their rupturedwindows There was a sense of stirring ostreets, where peop le were beginning to emergeout of the rubble that were once their grandest constructions Hundreds of thousands wereexpected dead, which was the worse vis ion of all, even if it wasn't shown in the imagesThere was a spark of hope in all the despair and anguish Countries from all parts of tworld were responding to the disaster and sending in their support Even acknowledged enemXpressing their conoervices were already well underway, exposing themselves in every corner of the city in whatwas conceivably the biggest relief effort in all of history It was inspiring to witness It made

Lizeth shed tears and nearly made me do the same Wellide ntallyleep was the furthest thing fromds, Dayce was not, and we each foresaw we couldncame to this decision, the manner of the newscasters voice, who had accompanied us for most othe broadcast, abruptly changed from somber to ambigut you, he said to the crisis expert he was interviewinto be revealed to uslearing of the dust has finally allowed our helicopter to fly throughThe scene then shown was difficult to make out at first There was no thing but haze anddistortion from the dust as it continued to fill the entireke that for such a lostretch of time that I almost assumed the monitor had went to static Even so, with ne ither mywife nor I taking more than two breaths between us, we could begin to see the vague outline ofThis is a live shot, said the news anchor, his voice lingering in the back ground atremble of ant icipation quivered his vocal folds, which I,m sure was felt by all watching Imbeing told they will shorty exit the dust cloud and, if I,m correctly hearing this, we will then bet of

Is that right? Of the asteroid itself? Let's give them a momentIn the course of that short period, my mind was comp le tely controlled by the screen infront of mence, anyone watching became a puppet to theee the une ven terrain ascending and the soil becoming more ridgedmbed thee image stirred aon onearticularly battered mountain As the picture adjusted, my eyes roamed closer to the bottothe jagged landscape and I was able to see something that was completanything I had ever seen before First off, at the base of this mountain, there was an immensecrater reaching the neighboring mountains nearby, although that was not what caused me tosuddenly struggle for breath Within the crater laid the apparent asteroid but it wasnt what Iexpected to see in my naive mind of mine This object appeared intensely dark and oblongshaped The video was not yet completely distinct, with billows of dust still haunting the screen,

I kept b link insthink ing the ima ge would trans form into somethingThe object was fathan I had first supposed, and that was granting some of it wasburied deep within the mofoundation, with the exhibited portion being a third as long asthe mountain was high, making it at least a mile in length Questions were beginning to runthrough my mind like grains of sand in a sandstorm How could that muclsuch an energetic impact? And why, then, wasnt the impact even greater? An object thatmassive should have re leased enough energy to level a continent, not just a nearby city Beforecould begin to say these questions out lotticed that the asteroid I had been studying all thtime was mo ded in an unnervingly cons is tent, rectangular shapeheard a voice say, "Thats a strange looking rockIt soundedh like an echo that I originally thoughthead, but a quick recation told me it had arisen from Lizeth i had forgotten all about her inmy trepidation I wanted to look at her, but a magnetic glue forced my eyes to glare at the screenfrontaleededRoym?""Lizeth uttered, with some concern in her voiceStill I did not turn to her

I felt her eyes piercing me like a cold dagger, and while I couldfeel the grim puncture on my face, I continued to look onward The rest of my body was abseand everything around me was void and vacantWhat's wrong? " she asked me with more nervousness than before for she must havefeltThe sound of her acutely troubled voice must have revived me at last, because it was thethat I finally turned to her Her cocked head, pursed lips, and watery eyes revealed her distressand it escalated when she saw my own face I knew she was scared, I don' t think she had evereen me like this before I stared back at her, but nothing came out of my gaping mouth i knewany word from me would have comforted her, but I could not form one Nonetheless, I soondidn't have to, since the broadcaster spoke for me, which I was grateful for, knowing I wouldhave remained senselessly silent all night

Thatto be the the object that generated the blast, said the unconfastronomer;, Dr Lynn, back on? She might be able shed some light on the image we are seeingIt was offic alpagination The anchor struggled with every syllable hepronounced because he and I were thinking the same damn thing

He knew, just as I didasteroid we were witnessing was actually not an asteroid at all It was alien

Chapter ThreeReactionToday rotated to tomorThe world's fasc ination and focus was now directed toobject in the crater The struggle in Dorvale became a distant concern in everyone's minds Allspellbound eyes were watching the flood of new pictures and video coming in as the dustvere swarming the mountain that was now integra ted into my memory to every last perceptibleebb Its visitor which seemed to have turned darker each time i looked at it never left thescreen,allowing for more extensive analysis The base of the structure was about a quarter widerthan its ceiling and was raised from the crater's floor at a slight angle, but the deceptively siascent was enough to create a space of about six hundred feet between the body and the groundat its presumed stern Its walls inc lined up ward from the base and formed a flatte ned plateau onp to make the roof

The mysteriouseached about one-fifth up the mountain, giving mea good idea of the structure's true stature Most mounta ins in the gears rouch the clouds, and this one in particular reigned over them all, indicating that the object'sheight woul dwarf all but the tallest buildings in the worldDespite fragments of the mountain masking a good portion of the foreign craft, unveilingthemselves were a few shallow cracks flowing across the otherwise sleek uniform surfacewas left with only those few scars, or how it could have survived a collision that intense at ano one could fathom Most agreed that the energy expended from the impact-which experts hadequated to several times the detonation of se veral nuclear weapons of the largest yield--shouldha ve vaporized any known material, or at least have destroyed it to the extent that there would bele to salvage Even with the scarring, the interior remao windows of any kind or cavities to speak of to disclose any hint of the inside Another detail Icould not disre gard was the lack of a visible engine There was nothingtheopulsion mechanism, or any trace of how it could have drifted threalle gedly what it was designed to do The engine, or engines, I hypothesized, could have beenconcealed where it was buried, hidden inside of it, or may have not needed one at allNone of these speculative observations he led to release my thorunrelenting questions: Why did it crash? Where was it going? Was anyre ins ide? wh

Id they do if they were? i natura lly befrus trated by itbe ginning to think thatne of it was fair Today was supposed to be the worlds first day for healingAnother inq uest breached my mind, however, this one came via Lizeth, who askedly thanked her for taking me out of my stupor "I'msure everyone isthinking the same thing, I mechanically replied to her, for I was still only half myself I felt herevoted hand over my arm and she gently squeezed it, b0 i could hard ly feel her slimfingers on my skin My entire body felt numb I felt a need for her to crush my arm somehow, sothThis was not something that was supposed to happen to me As a biologist I thought Iwas prepared for an occurrence like this Out of thelanets in our galaxy alone andthe innumerab le galaxies be yond that, it had always made sense for me to envision thatype of life existed outs ide our solar neighborhood There would therefore be some type of lifethat would, in due course, become articulate and practical enoughhno lo gy thatght be more advanced than our own But seeing the spacecraft from another existence restingwithin the crater somew here on my world made my blood run cold until it felt as though nentire body was experiencing brain freeze

The last time I must have felt this unsure of myselfwas when l exited the womb Everything was reintroduced to me; reset All facts were nowburied in a previous ageThis was not me It ne ver was i remembered the time when just weeks be fomy driver's license, my mother and I wereved in a vicious car acc ident The clouds hadunc haracteristicallcontrol of the ravening, making my mother lose hers The carflipped over anywhere between one to a hundred times; fee ling more like the latter It sent eachof us to the hospital and she hadin there for over a month three weeks after her releaseed my drgh the acc ident hadhappened My youthful spirit had wholly possessed me, freeing the terrible event from my mindhad seized the freedom given to me instead of fearing what it could bringeach of the possibilities and opportunities I thought my scientific mind would grasp were entirelydeficmpaan animal that had watched a fellodown by a peculiar hunter with an otherworldly weapon In any case, notwithstanding my

It would be prudent to refer to this galaxy as Nimbus, for that is what it is known as by itsassortment of inhabitants While Earth,s human denizens share in its crowded history, theirourconsideration can be described as hid in their leathery physique and their levetechnology has yet to make exploring their own system an economically viable option Also, asmost prime val species believe, they think themselves alone, having no tangible evidence to statetheTheir work, Evon, accommodates two moons in its elliptical orbit

The largest and uglierf the pair is the brown-shaded Tess, while the other is a buttery little sphere named Newt Theonly a few mountain ranges across the face of their world The equator appears the mar ntingearthlike with itwoodlandt is otherwise drier and morewinds wept the nearer one travels to the northern and southern poles Much of the planets surfaceis covered in arid landmasses, with the remaining third filled by relatively shallow seasSome among evon are be lieved to ha ve been blessed by their deities these few are ableto wield the e

lements and their states of matter, but whether this sacred gift can aid their speciesin their time of uncertainty is yet to be determined

Chapter oneImpactly father was taken from the realm of the living quite early in my life So young wain fact, that I had more memories of being in mourning than of his actual presence One of thesharpest of these remembrances transpiredThe presiding clericstrode over to me and while i remembered his traditional blue robesncall the words he imparted to me As he leaned down to meet my glassy, yellow eyes with hisown, he began to preach that no matter how difficult the looming yearst seem toknow that today was actually the first day of healing I remember thinking at the time how it feltmore like the first day of the end of the worlding citizens of Dirth! The timehecan bet your life savings on that! Expect today and the next few days to dip no lower than 95degrees, and the midday temps to easily reach a blistering 135 in most areasWe have the cure for those balmy temperatures! The cooling songs of Sir SaI snappily hit the snooze with the ball of my palm, allowing me to hear the more pleasly wife across the hall waking our son to the newly roused light, which pitilessly madeits way to my listless eyes I could not help but become mesmerized by Lizeth's songlike tenorwithin my sluggish state Her whisper beyond was soft and soothing, echoing a melody into mhich could never be imitated by any other

She could make a blind man fall for herthat voice alone, even if she were spewinglest of curses at himMuch to my reluctance, we performed our morning ceremony We would go to the samelace, at the same time, and do the same things Nothing was changed in that respect for the lastseveral years It was all so monotonous sometimes What I wouldnt give now for it to haveremained that way I was sitting at the breakfast counter eating slices of grilled fruits and toaswith my wife close by me, although, she was more concerned with arranging the pantry thanith any thought directed at me Meanwhile, as I was meditating on my upcoming schedule othe day, my son walked in Oyes met, his innocent face lighted up like a firework He

lways carried his bld obstinatethe prospects a fresh day brought, unlike his father He settled himself on the stool to mye go to the shockball game tomorrow? he asked in a rap id sort of manner,und venture at maturityasked in return, acting more serious thanwas“Wlling me'Daddy"?Seaver says only babies say Daddy, he stated as his excuse, slyly grabbing his shareof toast from the plate before me " And I,m not a babyWell, I guess that means yogrown up then Goodkickut of hooon Wait, that a lso means you can buy your own ticket for the game tomorrow I'lI see yothere ""I stood from my stool and half turned my back to pretend I was leaving hirNo, Dad, I don t have a job yetNow thats too bad, because only'daddies'buy ticke ts for their sons

Then, aftece to imply I was thinking through anvable probleat back down andupon him Okay, how"bout this When it's just you, me, and Mommyyou call me ' Daddy' and in pub lic you can call meDadThe signature grin stamped on his bright face approved of my idea After gobbling up thelast piece of toast from his hands, he replied, Okay, DaddyAll right, said Lizeth, look ing at Daye and placing my packed lunch near me " Nowthat I know you still need school, it's time for you to go Hop in the car my little princeOur son complied, snatching his backpack atop the dining room tab le behind us beforeheading out the front door, though not without leaving me his farewell firecrackerk, she told me, barely lookingdirece reacheder purse on the tableId be hoShe pecked my cheek with the brink of her lips, but as she attempted to walk away, I heldon to her blue blousesaid, giving her an overzea lo us apologetic look thatI knew could melt her heart at any time, which is why I used it sparinglyForgiven and mostly forgotten, she responded, her serene expression letting me knowwas indeed forgiven

Ited out teasingly " Think Dayce will beback in the nextGoing for a personal best?"she asked, matching my humor I might be able to workomething out later if you come home for lunchreached my office about half an hours drive later It was located in the fourth floor ofthe university's science department, a building infamous for having an antique elevator thatwould take two miracles to work, ne ver doing my morning any good I had always feltsuffocated inside my compressed and dismal office, not even the sham of a window on the backall could save that reality There was a day shortly after I had moved in when I attemptedenliven the space by adding a few pictures of the most beautiful streams and wildlife ever seenon this world but they only served to cause the place to become even more sorrowful thanbefore I knew they did not belong trapped alongside me

The semester mornings were pmuch clock work for me I had an early lecture, progressing more leisurely than I was used toand any time I had alone was filled with the grading of biology assignments, which wasgenerally quite relaxing for me, not taking into account the times I met an unforgivable errorfrom a student’ s paperMy second class began not long before the sun was grazinglest point in the skyThis particular session was always filled with the greatest agitation out of all my classes Manyvere just beginning to feel the effects of low blood sugar and were impatiently watching thelock tick by until the designated time to eat arrived For my part, I was starting to sense I caredwhen I was about to show a video about the cardiovascular system on the projection screenbegan to hear the voices swelling in the room They were not by any means loudruth, their conversations ascended so gradually that I couldn't even distinguish exactly whenthey were created I also woukd not say they were disruptive, for they were only whispers, andyet, even whispers could reveal more distress than in the loudest of screamsMay I ask what all this commotion is about? I inquired, not without a little aggra vationyurned to address the crowd, I realized that this was the first time I had trulyexa mihe room much of their attention was fixed to ward a stude nt in the cente

ering on his laptop resting before him, the light of it reflecting off their fretful faces In spiteme, everyone was so enthralled by their recent interest that their subtle murmurs continued onAs i remained reticent for a moment, though it could have been longer the ir conversationsyhad finally sensed my stillness, for all their eyes soon fell on me and the roomwas filled with a silence only ominous news could beara bolder student, who was involved in the centerid,Um, Professor Rosyth,something happened in Dorval There was a big disaster A huge e xplosion of some kind a loof people could be deadtook a moment to fully grasp his explanation Dorval was one of the largest cities inthe potent Valland Nation On a globe, valland was situated almost directly opposite from DirthBeforld ponder a guess as to what had happenedd

I was already starinat the early reports on my computer I did not even recall taking down the cardio vascular videoever had the chance to explain The news bulletin was also mirrored on the projection screenthe leftlooked back and forth between them, as if i could not belie ve what either screensho wed and hoped that one of them would change to a less harsh truthEvery head line I came across stated Breaking News"in bold red font The wordsion plunges Dorvale into chaos and takes out poweruch of valland Dorvaland much of theto betion has declaredlelaunch, however, the valland military is on high alert I kept seeing the same words over andver again on other articles like a never esequence of bad news deja vuThere was an off chameone may have spoken to me beforpicked up a fema l voice asking, "Professor Rosyth, what do you think it is? Could it have beenan asteroid?" but given that I was so enthralled by the information portrayed to me, I did not heathem I didn't even recognize whose far-off sounding voiced had reached me; my eyes neverreached hersIt's looking that way, I answered her My words were mind less, there was no sense ofIf-control "The valland have no active vo llanos or calderas, which are the only other natusources that could possibly affect such a large area

How many live in Dorval?ther student askedting from the far left side ofIsnt it about six million? added someone new near the top rightShit, mil lions wiped out! were the last words I heard to snap me out of my trancefee ling like i was no lonMost of the students were still speaking over each other, louder than they had ever been"Wedont know if it was a direct hit or not, " I said in my soundest voice, hoping to obtain everyoneattention, which succeeded "Let us all thank our ancestors it didn t hit a few hours earlier orlater Dorvale is nearly at the same latitude we are and only a minor time difference might hasaved us We should pray to the Spirits for those who are affected I was not really the religiouspe, but it felt appropriate to say, given the circumstances"Listen, I' m not saying to go crazy oanything, but i know a sizeable as teroid strike can end up affecting the weather for the next feyears, and valland trade will definitely be impaired, so the price of food and numerous items willcertainly be on the rise shortly I ad vise all of you to stock up on nonperishable food items asdismissed for the daysoon I gave my consent to leave, they were gone They could not ha ve departed anyfaster if the room was on fire i did not feel the same ea gerness they felt so i stayed be hinddont think I wanted to feel the collective foreboding that was to be expected after a tra gedy ofthis magnitude

Furthermore i liked the idea of being alone for a while understanding it woulde difficult to ac hie ve afterwards when i and the rest of the world would be obsessed for ne wformation for the foreseeable future All the while, I stared blankly at my computer screeventually staring at a sleeping monitor If there were any new reports being made, I didn't wantut themIn the midstknew who it wasfrom and what it said before I read it My assumption proved correct It was my wife asking ifwas okay It was just like her to think that way a disaster occurred halfway around the worldand she was concerned about me, as if I had perhaps gone there without telling her At thatnstant I recognized where I needed to be I immediately felt guilty for taking time for myself,kno wing how worried she was about me, no matter how senseless After replying back that I washeading holeft as fast as i could thoubefore forwarding a message to my studentsand lea ving a note on the auditorium door that classes were cance led for the day

was that when I had arrived and opened the front door, my wife fell into my arms She was gle of the actual drive there all i discetrembling and must have been for some time, but as I wrapped my arms around her, I could feeher nerves unwinding throughout her body It was easy to forget how emotional she could be Id take pride in knowing that I was one of the few who had an incredible easinginfluence on her Her parents could never hide their amazement when I would put their daughterof mind without much effortWe made ourselves lunch though we had no real intention to eat it while we watchedcoverage of the catastrophe No new reports were being made It was the same phrases I had readcept there were faces behind the words We did come to see thedisc losed imagestogether, or more like the lack thereof Everything was concealed under the night All anyonecould detect were the packed clouds of dust and smoke churning in an atmospheilluminated by Newt

We couldn,t even identify the signature sk yscrapers that stood so tall in theproud city of Dorval Seeing nothing was almost worse than seeing w hat was really happenas it made my imagination run wild We placed the freshly made sandwiches on the little glasstab le before the television, with their expected fate to become stale Most of the babble in theroom came from the various gathered aut horities and guests on the screen i had sat down on ourig red couch whereas Lizethed standing, but she lingered within arms lelldbe stillnot e xphis particularintervalOh, Roym, were the first strained words Lizeth said to break our long silence I almostdidnt hear her low voice above the broadcaster "Dayce will have a lot of questionsComforted that the muteness was finally ended between us, I was assertive enough to say,take carePlease, try not to scare him You tend to be too blunt with him Do you remember tellinghim the sun will eventually explode? He cried in his room the whole day " She sat down on theindicating her allaying mindI disaster, I said to her, a little annoyed that she thought I couldn't betactful with our son Maybe if it was a terrorist attack or outright war Id understand yourrry, but you can't sugarcoat a dust storm or volcano Besides, Dayce is older now, he musthave only been six when I told him about a stars lifecycle He shouldnt cry now

He doesn't have to cry to be scared, she responded,She became silent, but again rose from her place I followed, positioning myself behindher I then wrapped my arms around her waist and pressed my chest to her backnodded back to her She took a quick glance at the television and said, in a voice suppressed withlively antipathy, I can't stand some people at the firm You know, I overheard Alun today, dou remember him? That fat fuck from my boss's party last year'? I heard him comp laining abohow this would affect his quarterly numbers, and i know he wasnt the only one thinking itDon't I keep telling yome at UKi and you can teach some business classesYShe stared at me with her most serious look and said, "But the pay is so shittyked a smile She followed my lead

We then burst into a fit of contagious laughterLizeth managed to remain home and didn't return back to work as she would normallyha ve done In the interim, my hunger returned to me and i realized just how starved i really wasate the sandwich that i made earlier with no heed tog ago I made it, and immediatelymented leaving my hearty soup in my office After sho ving the miserab le sandwich down myhroat, I went to go take a quick shower, which took longer than I anticipated when lizeth joinedme I suppose being reminded how fragile our existence was could make some feel the needemphatically embrace life's most precious moments We remained in this blissful physical andmental state until the moment I had to go pick up Dayce from school It was time for us to returnback to realit