goldarrow: (Stephen-Ryan)
[personal profile] goldarrow
Title: Ozymandias Redux
Author: goldarrow
Rating: 15
Words: 1281
Characters/Pairing: Nick, Helen, Stephen, Ryan, Connor
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Impossible Pictures, not me. I make no profit. I will return everyone and everything in perfect condition once I'm done playing with them.

For the April Challenge #1: Ozymandias - Percy Bysshe Shelley


Ozymandias Redux


“It was called Christo-Rei.” Helen’s voice was hard enough to cut steel as she pointed to the remains of the huge statue lying in disorderly pieces at the base of the pedestal.

Cutter blinked, still disoriented from being hit over the head from behind hard enough to make him dizzy and then pulled – or was it shoved? – through what he considered to be an overly convenient anomaly to end up here, alone with Helen beside this collapsed monument.

“Where are we?” he asked slightly shakily. “Why didn’t you shoot me? What sort of plans do you have this time?” He knew it was going to take him some time to get over staring down the barrel of a gun being held in his former wife’s hand as they faced each other in the bombed-out shell of the ARC.

“I need you to look around, Nick. This was Lisbon. This is the future of the entire world if you keep going down the path you’re treading right now. This is the future you, and your friends at the ARC, will create.”

They were standing on a hillside in front of the statue’s head, the rest of the figure scattered in large chunks behind it. Cutter estimated that the statue must have been close to 30 metres tall when it was still in one piece. The pedestal that had held it had survived a bit better, but it was still not either safe or solid looking. Cutter stepped back away from the slightly swaying structure. He wasn’t going to stand anywhere close to something he reckoned was about 75 metres tall that was swaying that much in the wind.

Once he was far enough away from the ruined monument to feel a bit safer, he turned his back on it and looked around, making sure that he kept Helen in the corner of his eye.

All the breath went out of him in a rush. The scene in front of him was one of complete devastation. The river that should be flowing across the landscape wasn’t full of water, it was completely filled instead with bits of debris. Along with chunks of buildings, some shards of metal that might be what was left of rusting automobiles, and more unidentifiable detritus, there were the massive concrete blocks and steel cables that had fallen from what had been a suspension bridge spanning it. The city on the other side of the former river couldn’t even be called a city any more. All that was left of it was a pile of bricks and plaster and twisted steel, only the faintest of patterns still discernible where the roads used to be. The sight went as far as Cutter could see in all directions.

Just occasionally, he could make out slight movement amongst the debris. Movement that was a little too reminiscent of how he remembered the Future Predators moving, like massive four-legged spiders.

Shuddering, he gasped out, “Lisbon? It can’t be. How did this happen?”

Helen whipped round and almost snarled at him. “You do this! You, Nick. You and your little friends at your almighty ARC unleash this horror on the world. You have to stop, right now. You have to make sure that Lester and his shadow group don’t have the chance to create this.”

Cutter shook his head. “No, Helen, this isn’t what we’re doing. We’re trying to ward off this kind of destruction.”

“No. You do it. I’ve seen it!”

Eyes narrow, Cutter stepped back. The expression on Helen’s face and the look in her eyes was a little too crazed for his comfort. Not to mention the fact that he wanted very badly to get out of this place.

Keeping his tone even, Cutter stated clearly, “I don’t believe you,” and ducked back through the still open anomaly.

He knew that Helen would be coming after him – one thing he had learned from their time together was that giving up wasn’t in her nature – so he turned immediately and was ready for her when she rushed through, stooping low to try to fool him.

Grabbing the hand that was holding her gun, he spun her around and twisted the weapon from her grip. It hit the ground – luckily not going off since he was sure she would have had one up the spout – and he was able to kick it under the remains of a desk across the room.

The anomaly flickered oddly, brightening and dulling before it stabilised again, but Helen ignored it, lunging immediately at Cutter to try to get past him to retrieve her weapon. He grabbed her, swinging her around and away from the gun, but her attempt to regain her freedom knocked them both off balance and they stumbled back through the anomaly.

It was night. They landed on the ground, breath knocked out of them. Cutter sat up and gasped. Helen twisted in his grip and scrambled away from him, eyes wide.

The statue was in one piece, Christo-Rei looming over them on his tall pedestal, staring out over the city – a city that was full of light and life, unbroken, radiant with shifting, glowing colours. The suspension bridge spanned the flowing river, shining brightly through the night, illuminated with both its own lighting and the headlamps of the vehicles crossing it.

Cutter turned to Helen and saw an expression of horror on her face. He took advantage of catching her off-balance and grabbed her, spinning her around to force her to look over the living city.

“Look at that, Helen,” he snarled. “You almost killed me, and you almost brought about what you’d been afraid of. You missed. I’m still alive and now so is the future!”

She turned to him, devastation in her eyes. “Nick, I…” She shook her head, pulling away with her back turned to both him and the city.

Cutter waited, keeping an eye on his anomaly, hoping against hope that its steadiness meant that he had plenty of time to get back homoe. He was concentrating so hard on the anomaly that he forgot to watch Helen. Suddenly, another anomaly opened up beside the statue’s pedestal and Helen accelerated from a dead stop to a flat-out run as quickly as an Olympic sprinter. Before he could move even one pace, Helen was through it and gone.

His hand rose helplessly, but Cutter knew he had no chance at all of catching her. He shook his head as he turned to face the original anomaly, still glittering in the night air. It flickered. Immediately terrified, Cutter performed his own rapid acceleration, pelting back through it to find Connor – and Stephen, and Ryan? Dear lord, how had that happened? – waiting for him.

Stephen caught him as Cutter stumbled in shock.

Eyes wide, Connor started babbling in a manner so familiar to Cutter that he began to relax, only to start gasping again as Connor’s words sank in.

“Are you okay, Professor? We were about to come through after you. Is Helen gone? If we’ve lost her again Lester’s going to go spare! Claudia’s outside, she’s already working on cover stories, but she’ll be happy you’re back.”

Cutter shook his head. “Helen’s gone,” he told them, then whispered softly enough that no one else heard, “but somehow, she’s managed to give me back everything I’d lost.”

He turned to the anomaly and watched as it faded, flickered, then closed. Helen had done something when she left. He had no idea what or how, but for now, he didn’t bloody care.

He was home, to a home that was truly much better than the one he’d left five minutes – and a lifetime – ago.


End
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