Hyperwind

Blue Phoenix



No soul ever knew when that egg was laid.

Just few polar bears and curious penguins had discovered that hard-shell, icy, deep blue, seal-sized egg right within the depths of the giant and ruthless ice fields of the dusky, frightful Frozen Land. Ancient legends were taught about the dangers of Frozen Land that no one should enter being sane, unless one has a heart of fire, hands of a titan and the wit of a sage.

Endless fields and forests of ice, cut by deadly chasms and fathomless cavities full of black, dreadful water were standing guard over the valley surrounded by a circle of mountains with their peaks devoured by dark, leaden somber clouds concealing few dim rays of a pale light. There, on the darkest night of that year, in the eye of an ice storm, the eggshell cracked and eventually was shattered: it broke free and came into this world feathered, his beak strong and sharp, but his wings weak. A horrible blizzard made it even harder to reveal the birth of the Blue Phoenix, a fledgling of the Void. His feathers and eyes were the deepest shade of blue, an embodiment of all the grief and sorrow of the human heart, of all the sins waiting for absolution, of every tear fallen out of the eyes of the innocent...

The blizzard kept on whipping the Frozen Land, cleaving it, tearing away whole hills of ice, banishing the very last particles of a formerly heavenly light, crashing down the wrecked tarnishing sky, tormenting the dreary clouds… all of a sudden a blue thunderbolt struck upwards, cutting through the furious wrath of turbulent snow, up to the barely visible sky… and then, almost reaching the roof of the world, it collapsed, succumbed to the elemental rage, thrusting into the ice, piercing through the thick of it, in the horrible explosion of ice blades slicing everything around. Nevertheless, the incredible perseverance and the mystic force of life prevailed and the blue beak tore its tomb asunder, leaving the calm ice strata just to plunge into the violent roaring storm that obviously hadn’t left any other soul in the Frozen Land alive.

Resolute in his struggle, this time the Phoenix struck the air that appeared to be rock-solid from the ice shards cutting it, with his wings, swiftly folded them in a determined spurt, then imploded with the miraculous energy and, scourging the clouds, forcing his way through the sky dome, hastily rushed up and saw the sun…

The humongous metropolitan city of Vis Vires symbolized the might & vigor of the proud PHO alliance, Pax Humana Omnipotens, that, in its endeavor to tighten its grip on this world, pretended to have dethroned the God and to have banished his Angels, claiming that humans were the one, and only ultimate authority on Earth, free to choose their destiny as well as a way to interpret their history. Having achieved outstanding results in technological development, bioengineering and social sciences, PHO, comprising every human on Earth and in extraterrestrial settlements, embraced the glorious path of continuous perfection of people lifestyle, world infrastructure, and human interactions. Located in the very center of Vis Vires, on the top floor of Sceptrum Invictus, the magnificent towering edifice, built entirely of neoconcrete, hammering the sky, The masterful PHO Forum, elaborated intricate edicts and regulations, implemented by a whole network of executive bodies, agencies and law-enforcing corps. The Academia Statistica Humana, the meta-academic organization with its branches, social observatories and “mood sensors” and complex laboratories mastering every aspect of understanding and swaying human behavior.

Those scientists and psychoengineers performed quite a feat: they found a method of controlling various human wishes, aspirations and longing, impartially believing those to be the root, the origin, the basis of all the ominous trends that were encumbering the humanity’s path to the effulgent future, hampering the humankind in sculpting a splendid temple of independent human spirit. Nearly all sorts of human passion were taken into custody of scientific oversight, securing the society against primal rage, envy and murder for money. But there was one stubborn emotion that refused to be tamed: love, the emotion that was still impelling humans to feel jealousy, a sharp pain of parting or breaking off and a slow death of loving without requital. Jealousy steered frenzied lovers into murdering their beloved while unfortunate lonely admirers committed suicide. And yet people stood their ground, positively insisting on feeling love above anything else. But once, a brilliant psychology researcher Lucius Felix discovered a love suppression technique christened Carnalitas Pristina, a method of remotely inducing lust and carnality in humans, thus overwhelming the emergence of love with carnal desires, dulling the romantic feelings, driving them blunt and distant. The lust was strictly controlled, any possibility of violence eliminated by a newly founded agency operating under the supreme power of Curator Vitium.

The same instant the first Carnalitas emitters were activated, the blue egg appeared under the very roof of the world, as cataclysmic blizzard began its assault, eager to wipe out all life from the Frozen Land…

It is unknown how soon the Blue Phoenix reached Vis Vires after his escape from the deadly clutches of the northern storm – surprisingly nobody saw him coming and landing at the Sceptrum Invictus spire, where he nested neatly, his nest is somehow invisible, indiscernible amid spectacular, elaborate, an involute neoconcrete architecture…

When the clouds turned purple in splendent twilight, the sun favored Vis Vires with its valedictory gleam, the citizens of this immense metropolis proceeded to their private lives, the enormous entertainment facilities started thriving, luring the city’s population into its great leisure centers teeming with pleasure dispensers, maelstroms of vice and lechery, palaces of twisted delight under the rigorous yet unnoticeable control of Curator Vitium. Citizens, young and old alike, readily gave themselves up to the flames of controlled passion induced by pervasive Carnalitas emissions just to forget their debauchery partners the next morning, thus leaving no place for destructive suffering of love. Even the word ‘love’ itself was banned from the Vocabularium Universalus while the romantic arts like poetry were erased from the world’s cultural heritage, leaving no trace of such emotional experience as love in the memory of humankind.

Observing all this legitimized depravity from his nest at the height of very stronghold it originated from, Blue Phoenix cried bitterly, his cold blue tears crystallized as gemstones sometimes falling down and, caught up by free winds, carried away and dispersed throughout the city. Very few citizens, secretly worshipping mysticism, though as a form of science, picked them up, believing them to possess some physical powers still unknown. The Phoenix never left his nest until sunset, only when the night clouds were losing their fiery purple tinge, indicating the coming of the night’s reign, he abandoned his shelter under the Sceptrum’s spire to vanish into the grey milk of cloudy sky, diving through the foggy ravines between skyscraping human hives…

Zealously was he disrupting cruel Carnalitas emissions, freeing more and more citizens of its merciless power. Some were so anxious about their new unfamiliar emotion making their way through inert souls that they started to report these disturbing feelings to Curator Vitium, and those reports soon aroused a strong suspicion that led to the full-scale investigation of the mysterious phenomena. As the reports were made mostly by night or morning, almost all of investigation task force was assigned to night shifts. The newly hired Curator Vitium agents, Venatori Noctis, the humans altered to possess inhuman powers of perception, strength and agility, operating beyond law’s limits, wandered Vis Vires every night till sunrise on their Ales levitation devices, armed with ocular gears extending their perception even farther, letting them pierce the night with their attentive sight, thoroughly examining every inch of the city, combing out its every block and building, merging with the crowd scanning for any source of interference, any seed of sabotage.

And yet at every nightfall the lonely Blue Phoenix heeded the call of his bitter duty, and many people stopped reporting their feelings, but many people felt love for the first time and only began to call in for help in managing the worrisome sensation. The Phoenix’ blue magic was powerful and communicable from one citizen to another. Like a dawn of a new, sunny, calm and yet happy day, it infused people with love, as if the banished God had recovered his throne and shined again in the sky. Love brought back suffering, was mostly unrequited and could end as everything else on the Earth does, but it was love as it had to be, and one cannot be endowed so richly not being bereft of anything else. Humans, in their pride, defied the eternal law and now were denied their power of defiance.

It must be mentioned that at that time the happiness was only seeming, as a reflection of the sun on the surface of water – it’s seen but can’t be taken away to shine through the night. Every person that was sinking into a grief was subject to be forcedly felicitated, a procedure that had only one half of happy outcomes. Those whose Felicifactor gave up on them, vanished as citizen and were turned into the agents of Curator, chemically altered to reject any feeling at all, most of them then becoming Venatori.

As we live our lives we rarely perceive the traces of injustice and depravity nearby, our hearts closed for reality knocking at them, our eyes fed up with it. Only when we turn over the decrepit pages of an ancient legend, we are stunned with a description that appears to be fictitious to us. But the world as we know it never rewards anyone for their incredulity.

The Venatori succeeded at understanding that no citizen could be liable for sabotaging Carnalitas – due to their supreme effort and total dedication, it was uncovered that the origin of interruption was unsteady, even mobile. Besides, it soared up and dove as swift as no aircraft could, even their own Ales. One night, a Venator called Astur felt a strange trace of an alien presence, then, in an instant, it was like a row of bluish feathers were strung together on a thin fiber that than evaporated. Immediately, the strong disturbance of Carnalitas emissions were reported nearby, one of the emitters even failed. Astur intuitively flew back to the closest emitter station and threw the trackers around. The Venatori network worked faultlessly and several outburst of blue magic was registered along the central avenue Regnum Humanum, then near Platea Voluptas, Vis Mentis square… and then nothing, the last signal tracked at Sceptrum Invictus.

Venatori reported their partial success to Curator Maximus and they said they never had seen him as rejoiced as at that dawn. It were as the rising sun imbued him, his eyes radiated absolute triumph, he spoke with such a fervent eloquence that Venatori were firmly convinced that at the end of the day they would have their prey. The task force was reinforced with Castigatori, an obscure order of executors reporting only to Princeps Forumi, de facto master of the PHO, carrying out the most grim orders of assassination. Castigatori were hired only from men who had committed multiple cruel murders and were facing death penalty. Instead, they were reported dead and transferred to Insula Caligosus where they lost the what was the rest of their humanity, frightening even their own masters. Though not as agile and perceptive as Venatori, they were surely much more ruthless, brutal and fierce in battle…

The Venatori succeeded at understanding that no citizen could be liable for sabotaging Carnalitas – due to their supreme effort and total dedication, it was uncovered that the origin of interruption was unsteady, even mobile. Besides, it soared up and dove as swift as no aircraft could, even their own Ales. One night, a Venator called Astur felt a strange trace of an alien presence, then, in an instant, it was like a row of bluish feathers were strung together on a thin fiber that than evaporated. Immediately, the strong disturbance of Carnalitas emissions were reported nearby, one of the emitters even failed. Astur intuitively flew back to the closest emitter station and threw the trackers around. The Venatori network worked faultlessly and several outburst of blue magic was registered along the central avenue Regnum Humanum, then near Platea Voluptas, Vis Mentis square… and then nothing, the last signal tracked at Sceptrum Invictus.

Venatori reported their partial success to Curator Maximus and they said they never had seen him as rejoiced as at that dawn. It were as the rising sun imbued him, his eyes radiated absolute triumph, he spoke with such a fervent eloquence that Venatori were firmly convinced that at the end of the day they would have their prey. The task force was reinforced with Castigatori, an obscure order of executors reporting only to Princeps Forumi, de facto master of the PHO, carrying out the most grim orders of assassination. Castigatori were hired only from men who had committed multiple cruel murders and were facing death penalty. Instead, they were reported dead and transferred to Insula Caligosus where they lost the what was the rest of their humanity, frightening even their own masters. Though not as agile and perceptive as Venatori, they were surely much more ruthless, brutal and fierce in battle…

…It was a bloody-red sunset and the air seemed to be soaked in an impending doom. Venatori surrounded Sceptrum, keeping silence, and Castigatori took their stand in three strategic choke points where the streets connecting the Sceptrum square were the narrowest. The sky was covered with drones, every roof sheltered a weapon emplacement, except the Sceptrum Spire itself – no one could even imagine that the mystical enemy could have nested there, just in the heart of human control over the known universe.

The sun disappeared mourning for what was about to happen, and the city stood still, every rustle echoed in walls of human pride, then succumbed to the dead silence. Several minutes passed… and the Venatori sentries witnessed a marvelous sight: a pale bluish glow illuminated the spire – how could everybody miss it every day? – and the giant blue bird showed up, getting ready for flight. It stood for a moment, then took a wing and rose high only to dive back towards the spire at a tremendous speed. The bird was beautiful and sorrowful at the same time and even the most cold-hearted of Venatori wavered, unable to make a move, to say a word. It was somehow obvious that this night this bird, the Blue Phoenix, dared show itself as it was, not even trying to be concealed. The bird… cried, its tears flying around, exploding upon collision with neoconcrete with outbursts of a bright blue light; some of the tears hit the Venatori, and those fell down on their knees, writhing with guilt, sobbing loudly, taking off their armor, dropping weapons and appealing to God in their shame and despair, intermitting their prayers with the names of those who they once loved. Seasoned Curator Maximus himself watched over the scene, shocked and confused for the first time in his long, even prolonged, life. For this night his was given command of Castigatori – Princeps Quintus Lux Mundi entrusted him with this operation, the supreme ruler was extremely alarmed by this menace of a completely unknown origin. He pressured the Forum into voting unanimously to delegate the control over Castigatori to Maximus, thus passing the command to an experienced veteran and avoiding any responsibility for the possible outcome. Control… as if the Castigatori could ever be fully controlled…

After a short hesitation, Maximus ordered all the Venatori to raise their shields and back off behind the buildings, into the ventilating shafts, to take cover in the protective capsules – its highly elastic membranes prevented the explosives from blowing up on contact. I the meantime, all the Morsus miniguns were to be ready for action as well as Fractus cannons. The Venatori hit by bird’s tears were to be immobilized and evacuated. As these orders were carried out, Phoenix’ tears hit some more Venatori, who tried to hindering their colleagues, appealing to their conscience, feelings and shame. They were quickly neutralized and, when the Blue Phoenix hovered once again over the spire and swooped down, they opened fire…

…His noble blue blood was much alike his tears: crystal, flying around in a violent vortex of his pain, surprisingly, he rushed about not even attempting to take cover, to escape from the deadly rain tearing him apart, sucking his life like a swarm of hungry leeches. When hit by a Fractus shell, he screamed piercingly, then courageously kept silent, still crying with his blue tears. Apparently, he embraced his destiny, ready to serve a greater purpose… This horrifying, startling sight almost disabled half of the Venatori as effectively as the tears transformed the hearts of the other half.

But then, Maximus, aware of his obvious defeat thus far, reluctantly ordered Castigatori to assault the enemy. He did not hear the usual “Fiat!” but the silence in his comm device. However, he somehow knew that his order would be carried out with outrageous cruelty. They appeared almost out of nowhere, hovering on their Ales Torvus and hit the crying Phoenix at one stroke with their Gladi Caedis, extremely sharp half-swords, half-axes. They surely succumbed to their bloodlust: their faces always covered with protective masks, but one could feel their arrogant spite through any armor; their movements were synchronized, their blows crushing and their firm determination – appalling, the tears and the blood drops of the defenseless Blue Phoenix exploded at them having no effect, as if they were not human beings anymore, as if they were alive no more.

When the fierce blow of a Castigator hit his already dangling head, the Blue Phoenix screamed so lamentably that his voice suddenly appeared to be human, he fluttered his wings in confusion, clicked his beak as if he tried to tell something to his murderers from the beak he never used in battle, and stared sadly at the world he was about to leave forever. Suddenly, a ray of a blinding blue light cut through his feathers at his chest, then another one between his wings, then the Phoenix became a winged sphere containing irrepressible bright light setting everything around on mystic bluish fire that was not burning anything but the Venatori, Castigatori, Curator Maximus himself, Princeps Quintus Lux Mundi, citizens – those who passed through the surrounding to see what was happening and those across the rest of the metropolis – all the human beings in Vis Vires, its surroundings, then the whole world – and the other worlds where human settlement thrived – the entire Human Universe, Pax Humana Omnipotens, the invincible supreme PHO, was agonizing over its fundamental transformation. People were crying out of relief and of grief over those who they loved and lost forever, they were hugging each other, everyone experienced an enormous surge of emotions running through their freed souls. The blue fire did not spare only the Carnalitas emitters and all the depraved machinery and electronics there were…

After the light went out and the fire stopped raging, everyone close enough to the Sceptrum looked at the spire. The Blue Phoenix disappeared, leaving only a thin curved stream of light blue smoke. That was the end of the purification.

“Silence, the dim light and it’s cold… where am I? Did I die there, in that violent city?”

“Yes, you did”

“What? Who is this? I don’t see anything but the grim light and I don’t feel my body”

“That’s because you don’t have one”

“Who are you?..”

“I am the Spirit of Ice. Now look around”

He did not feel like he had any eyes but now he saw – a snow-white flat valley, dusky sky, nothing to go by but the snow, the sky. As flat as the valley – and nothing if you look at where the body must be.

No wings, no beak. Nothing.

“I remembered… dying in that city, over its center, in the sky above the spire… I had a nest… I miss my nest…”

“And?...”

“I had to die.”

He told it as quietly as he could. His memory recovered, he felt sad enough to keep silence for so long, but he spoke again:

“It is cold here… this land is familiar and I don’t remember this landscape at the same time. Still, where am I?”

“I am the Spirit of Ice and indeed, you have returned to my domain, the Frozen Land, where your first battle took place”.

“It looks… ravaged, destroyed by the storm I escaped”.

“Indeed again, I cast a blizzard to destroy it… more exactly, to simplify it”

“What are you talking about? To simplify? It looks oversimplified. What for? And, by the way, I don’t see you”

“You can’t see me. Oversimplified? Ha! Good joke, and I am fond of joking! Though I am Spirit of Ice, I am the fire itself when it comes to joking! Well… I simplified the terrain to make it more easy to build the new Land upon it. And.. it is going to be Frozen too! Ha!”

“You have quite a bizarre sense of humor, Spirit of Ice. All that horror, all that suffering of poor animal caught in storm… I remember them since being in the egg… I remember a penguin trying to hatch me… but the egg was too big and he just cuddled up to it… And now he is dead, torn apart just because you were bored… and you are fond of jokes…”

“Yes, it is just as you said. And you are still clinging to justice, even being murdered by those you lived for”

“I lived for… justice. That’s why I cling to it. I lived for love.”

“Love? What is this for? Sounds funny…”

“Sounds magnificent and tender. Sounds like life. Though you are a Spirit, but the Spirit of Ice. You cannot understand.”

“I can understand everything there is. I have been here since the Earth was in its cradle. And I will be here forever. And there will be ice. And I will think of something even funnier then penguins, though they’re droll when frolicking…”

“I can’t stand you.”

“You can leave anytime”

“How?”

“Reach out to the one who created you”

“Who is it?”

“Who did you see taking care of you after you were killed?”

Everything vanished. Again. Only the voice, the best, the most tender and caring voice in the whole universe. The one and only voice of all times.

“I am proud of you and I grief over your death, Blue Phoenix”

“You created me”

“Yes, I created you and you had to live on”

“I had to die, didn’t I? You created me to die, to purify mankind”

“No, you did not have to”

“Then why…”

“Because it is the way you earthly creatures think, it is the way you see the Reason for you to come into this world. You always consider you must pay an outrageous price for anything you have, for anything you’re after. You need not die to purify the mankind. But they thought they must kill you because you were a threat to them in their eyes. You could escape and fight on. But I am not blaming you for the way you were created. I am not as good a Creator as you think.”

“Obviously… otherwise you wouldn’t have created that disgusting soulless Spirit of Ice. That penguin…”

“There is no such spirit. He does not exist.”

“I spoke to him! He… destroyed the Frozen Land, he killed all those innocent creatures!”

“You didn’t… and he didn’t. He could not. He is non-existent. As I mentioned before, you’re eager to search for the reason anywhere, even where there is none”.

“Well, what did wipe out the Frozen Land?”

“A storm.”

“If there is no Spirit of Ice, who would rebuild it?”

“You want it to be rebuilt? Why?”

“Because I can’t forget that penguin. Because I saved humanity, but I lost him. I want… justice. You say we have not to pay our price. I died. The penguin died. I even paid twice”

“Now that’s a reason. Bet you haven’t paid at all.”

He heard a smile in this voice. A smile full of kindness and benevolence. A smile of a slightly tired creature.

Now there was absolutely nothing. The Void.

He remembered something about the Void he had felt while being inside his egg. Now he knew for sure that the God he had just spoken to and the Void were somehow connected, moreover, they had to be a single whole, an entity – if God was everything, the Void was nothing, as necessary for this entity to exist as anything else. The Spirit of Ice would explain it in its own unique way: “to simplify”. What may be simpler and yet more majestic than the Void? He remembered its touch, sound and clear, that carved through his flesh and soul, removing everything unnecessary for him to become the Blue Phoenix. Otherwise, he could be a mountain of snow where his egg was laid. Or a bear. Or a spire at the top of Sceptrum Invictus, or a nest of another phoenix. Or he even could remain the Spirit of Ice.

Touching the Void… The unspeakable act of sacrificing everything you are not to become fully what you are.

The penguin gingerly approached the egg and cautiously touched it. Nearly as cold as the ice, it needs to be hatched. But it was so big… it’s better to cuddle up to it and to ask others for help, the other side is getting colder. Thank God, the sun is rising – the sky is clear last days, and there is almost no wind. Interestingly, what could possibly hatch out of this?..

…The great spire of Senate pierced the bright sky as proudly as it did before the downpour that had just stopped, the clouds retreated. Senator Maximus was very busy with cleaning up the city – the multiple emitters, crushed by the fury of the blue fire, burnt and then, as it seems, crushed again, littered the streets as well as warped weapons, armor, combat vehicles, Ales… It was a pleasant work though. He modestly buried one Castigator, Brutus, known as the most bloodthirsty of all his brothers-in-arms, - Brutus, who then resolutely cut his throat with his own Gladius, elation on his face, right after the blue fire struck the world.

Maximus felt like everything unnecessary had been cut from him, clearing the room for something new, something better. Something that would make him what he was intended to be.

It had been like… touching the Void.