Space Flight 704, Chapter 21: Doom is Overrated

Rex Plummeted to his death.

He had been pushed, he knew he had. Yet as he fell, he didn't feel anger, only surprise it had happened so soon.

As before, with certain doom rushing to meet his face, he experienced clarity. This time though it was different, the clarity stretched out into infinity at either end. His descent seemed slow, like plunging through custard, and he had time to think. He could feel each instant present in his mind.

He was astounded by the possibilities: the one moment of clarity brought on by adrenaline and imminent death - stretched to a lifetime with his untapped powers.

He felt god-like.

Each of his bones splintered within his ruptured skin as he hit the rocks. He felt indescribable pain for an infinity before his mortal body finally passed out.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 22: Time to Death

He was not getting the hang of this.

I had hoped to help you master your mortal form.

They were back in the endless nothingness. The other was a presence once more. Rex's consciousness recoiled from the memory of death, and the lingering sting of the impact.

I apologise for causing you distress, said the voice, I sensed you on the cusp of taking control of your form.

"Well you misjudged the height of the cliff," responded Rex, bitterly.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 23: Perspective

You understand now, don't you?

Rex did understand. This life after death offered the chance to see the universe as he'd never seen it before. He was beginning to see beyond the surface of things to their very structure. He was astonished to find he was starting to understand it.

If only he could focus.

Rex concentrated and began forming himself again. He struggled for a moment to remember how to start, but it was easier this time once he remembered.

"It's tough getting your mind to switch back and forth from the real world to here, huh?" suggested Rex.


Space Flight 704, Chapter 24: Something Must Be Done

Rex was itching to blast a hole in something.

You could put a gun in his hand and he was unstoppable.

But since the... accident... he could barely hold his form together. He felt powerless against an old friend-turned-enemy, and now he knew what it felt like, he couldn't face the thought of another painful death.

Perhaps you could unmake something, suggested the other, casually.

This time they appeared on a beach. As before, Rex was solid. As before, his companion was familiar, easily forgettable.

They were alone, but nearby the beach became rock and the other turned and walked toward the stones. Rex followed.

"Choose one."

Space Flight 704, Chapter 25: Let’s Rock

He didn't expect unimaginable power to mean he'd have to hug rocks.

"Why am I doing this again?" he asked the other, his arms encircling the rock he'd picked at random.

"You must understand the universe before you can shape it," replied his baffling companion.

"And I'll understand the universe by hugging this rock?"

"No," dismissed the other, "you will begin to understand the rock. Do not think. Do not act. Only feel the object."

Rex tried, he really did. This stupid exercise felt less like unlocking the mysteries of the universe and more like a lesson in humiliation. Maybe that's all this was, a sort of "letting go of yourself" through doing something stupid.

He was starting to to get a little uncomfortable. The rock was jabbing into his palm, and it was roughing up his arms. The cool mass against his chest felt...

Rex felt it. Not just the surface, but the whole rock. He understood its composition, and could sense its density. He felt the moss growing at its base, the cool sand sucking from below.

Rex started to solidify.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 26: Deadly Knowledge

He immediately felt bad about it.

With the understanding he found after hugging his chosen rock, he discovered he knew exactly what to do when The Other suggested he "unmake it".

Without thinking he reached deep into the structure of the rock and made it no-longer-a-rock. At the same time he felt a rush of energy and strength and sparkling thought. It was exhilarating, liberating, and devastating.

Rex had destroyed something. It hadn't been alive, but it was home to an entire species of organism that had grown there for generations. It couldn't feel, but its absence left a void that Rex couldn't fill. Rex had killed before, in his last life - a blaster had often been his only choice for survival, but this was different.
He had used his power to connect with an object. It had helped him understand the universe better and he had obliterated it.

The knowledge of it crushed him like the acceleration from escaping Vellegas 6, but without the release of weightlessness at the other end.

Rex shivered.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 27: Judas Kiss

If the sensation of unmaking the rock was like a kiss, then this felt like someone was nibbling his ear.

In the moment before the pain set in, destroying the rock was exhilarating. The influx of power from unmaking something was intoxicating.

Since that moment, he could feel something similar happening over and over but further away, like ripples reaching him at the edge of a pond. Again and again something was washing him with power, but small, subtle and incremental. Unlike the power from the rock, this came with no guilt.

He wondered what it was.

"Jones," replied his companion to his unspoken question.

His heart froze at the mention of the name.

"'Jones' what?" asked Rex, dreading the answer.

"Jones has learned to unmake," responded his companion, and Rex wanted to throw up.

The sensation he was feeling had been there since he was vapourised, but he'd only noticed it since his experience with the rock.

"And he's been doing it all this time?!"

Space Flight 704, Chapter 28: Not for the Faint of Heart

It hadn't been particularly smart, in hindsight.

He wasn't sure what he was going to do once he found him, but as soon as he'd realised Jones was the source of the ripples he felt, he began searching him out.

Reaching out with his mind, silencing his thoughts, he'd focussed on the energy. Groping around like a blind man in an unfamiliar room, he touched something.

He did not like what he found.

Violence, anger and misery hit him like a storm. Amongst the mielstrom he could make out something else familiar, a power and strength of will he recognised.

He recoiled at once, but the damage was done. Jones had felt the touch. Before he could withdraw, his being exploded with pain and light, then darkness as a thousand savage terrors were loosed on him. With effort he clawed his way out back into his Rex shell, back to the safety and comfort of solid body and flesh brain.

"That was a mistake," he said as he tried to catch his breath.

Space Flight 704, Chapter 29: Squared Away

It stood to reason that Jones would be unhappy with him. He had shot him, a lot.

Then again, Jones had vapourised him from space, so they should be square. Not to mention Jones had betrayed him in the first place back on Manasar, and killed The Professor as well. By his count he owed Jones one.

What worried him now more than Jones finding him and releasing all that terrible power on him, was what he had been doing with his power before they'd touched. Jones clearly had a plan when they had gone to recover the Ortrix, and he wondered if dying had slowed him down at all. Maybe with all this power he'd have a new plan. Jones always did love a plan.

"What can I do?" he asked the ever-present Presence.

Space Flight 323: A New Ally

If they ever got out of this, he'd owe this guy one.

He'd sat there in his holding cell, wishing he hadn't already used The Professor's hidden grenade launcher, wondering how he was going to make his escape.

There had been a quiet knock on the door, so out of place in this dark dungeon of terror, he'd been completely taken by surprise.

"Come in," he'd said lightly as though he wasn't tied - naked - to a cold metal chair stained with his own blood.

The man before him wasn't tall or well built, but he exuded power that made it difficult for Rex not to just think of him as "massive". He moved swiftly to release Rex and handed him his clothes and weapons.

"Come with me," he'd said before Rex could speak, and moved out into the corridor.

Rex winced as he pulled on his shirt and struggled into his pants. He was grateful for both, but even more so for his Corral Specials.

Rex bounded out the door and found he had to run to catch up with his new ally, despite the stranger looking like he was out for a casual stroll.

"Who are you?" Rex asked, but as he did so, six Plenitech guards rounded the far corner and immediately began shouting and drawing their weapons.

Rex reached for his guns, but the stranger put a hand over his own and gave a slight smirk.

An explosion shook the compound and flame, concrete and dust engulfed the hapless goons.

"What's your name friend?" asked Rex, impressed.

"Jones," said Jones with a smile, as he led the way through the hole in the wall.

This guy is good, thought Rex. aThis post was originally published as a subscriber only story.

Asides   [ + ]

a. This post was originally published as a subscriber only story.