Tear The World Apart, Part 8: Sky's The Limit

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(Wednesday, June 11th)

The sky was freedom.

Here, alone, he could imagine that he was alone. That there was nothing in the world but him, drifting endlessly through a sea of white. All of his worries, his pains fell away, until nothing but serenity and peace remained. He let the winds carry him, sliding effortlessly through the clouds, his thoughts drifting from moment to inconsequential moment.

“You have a responsibility, boy! You can't just go around doing whatever strikes your fancy!”

His father's words drifted from the depths of memory, and he frowned at it, forcing it back down. But it would not stay. As always, he sighed, knowing that it was the truth, but determined to spend just a few more minutes by himself…

Which was the moment that he came through a cloud and saw the jet barrelling at him.

He rolled his eyes and sighed, even as he let his powers drop away and fell with them, dropping below the screaming jet. For a moment he was caught in the backwash, and he saw shocked passengers as he fluttered past. A young girl waved.

He waved back, just before the plane vanished into the distance, and then he spread his arms and rose into the air once again, picking up speed and turning south. The episode with the plane confirmed it; if he had returned to base when his thoughts first suggested, it would not have occurred.

Twenty miles away, a woman stood on the top of a towering skyscraper, watching the clouds solemnly. Her brown hair was pulled back in a tight bun, and she fidgeted nervously with one side of her glasses as she waited. One hand instinctively moved to calm the skirt fluttering around her waist. Then, as a speck appeared in the distance, rapidly approaching, she permitted herself a smooth smile. Within moments, the man was landing easily on the roof next to her.

“Welcome back, sir.” She diplomatically did not mention the oddity of his delay; his trip had lasted seven minutes and thirty-eight seconds, a full three minutes above his standard. He was under a great deal of pressure, after all, and a few extra minutes to himself on the eve of their victory could be expected. Instead, she simply handed him the folder she held at her side. “All agents are accounted for, and prepared for the assault.”

“Excellent, Fathom.” Judgment smiled down at his assistant, taking the folder and rifling through it as he stepped towards the stairs. One hundred and twenty-two Antiheroes, including his turncoats in the SEA ranks. “Any issues while I was out?”

“No, sir. Everything is proceding normally.” Fathom paused, her eyes flickering as she psychically accessed the data networks below, then fell into step behind him. “We are set for tomorrow's attack.”

“Excellent.” Judgment sighed, shaking his head. “I find myself torn between joy and sorrow when I contemplate tomorrow's events. There will be many people killed. Possibly even some innocents. But their deaths will lead to the salvation of our land.” He paused. “Do you feel any hesitation, Fathom?”

“No, sir.” Fathom spoke quickly and easily. “It is as you have always taught us. The righteous will always be victorious over the evil. Our cause is just, and our aims are true. As long as that remains true, we cannot be defeated.”

Judgment nodded, with a slim smile, and it was Fathom's turn to hesitate. “Sir.”

“Yes?” He glanced over his shoulder, looking down at her with a quizzical expression.

“Do you have doubts?” In her experience, it would be an unprecidented event, but…

“No.” His face turned grim. “I have lived my entire life knowing exactly what my duty is. My first responsibility is to the three hundred million people enslaved by these mad Accords, even if they do not realize the harm that is being caused. The lives of a few thousand cannot begin to compare.”

“And the lives of your daughters?”

“I have no daughters!” The words came out as a roar, and Judgment spun to face Fathom, light pouring from his body as he raised a fist. She took a step backwards, surprise showing on her face. Judgment followed her, his face livid. A stunned moment, passed, and then he straightened slowly. His hand loosened with effort, and the light around him died down to nothing. “Forgive me. The past has been weighing heavily on me lately.”

Fathom took the implied rebuke, resolving not to mention it again. “Of course. You'll feel better once we've conquered the city.”

“I imagine so.” Judgment nodded after a moment, some of his good humour returning. There was nothing like a victory to salve the spirit, and as Fathom had said, the cause of Right was with them.

Tomorrow, there would be nothing to stand before them. The SEA would fall, and Grovedale with it. And thus would begin the road to the freedom of the United States.

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