Outside of the building, the broadcast went static as the world around the players collapsed. The Zealots and Hybrids and Sikkas all stood waiting for who or what would emerge. On the platform below the tree, Kaiya’s friends and father regained consciousness. The tree continued to pulse. Eros, Arryn, Ayala and Shim looked at eachother and back at the tree. They understood now. What Wran was, what Wran could do. That the world they left when they entered the sim was not the same world they returned to. This was a new chapter, a new beginning, thousands of years in the making. It was a moment they took for themselves to recognize what had just happened. What they just helped bring about. Shim was the last to regain consciousness and when they were all lucid, they stepped off the green circle and sprinted back into the city center, towards the capitol building. Eros tried to reach Kaiya from his screen, but there was no response. Ideas raced through his mind as he raced through the streets. Did the Emperor die in the sim? Even if the Emperor did die, did Dredge? What of the soldiers outside, would they storm in, killing her? The thoughts gave him endurance and the wind grew louder as it dashed past his ears. He glanced over to her friends, whose faces all asked the same question.
“Soraiya, what’s happening? I can’t get a feed any longer, and I can’t reach Kaiya.” Eros yelled into his screen. There was no response, not even an acknowledgement that the message was sent.
“Kaiya, can you hear us?” Shim tried on her screen as well. Then Arryn. Still, nothing. They pushed themselves faster through the streets.
Kaiya came back to reality in the room she had been captive in. She hurt all over, as if she’d been kicked repeatedly in the ribs. Her ears bled. She let her eyes wash over the cube and realized the threads were no longer red, they were green. Both Dredge and the Emperor stood suspended, limp, held up by the threads. They pulsed around their chest and legs. Paxos looked near death, but came awake with a start.
“You made it my girl, your father will be proud. Now, finish this.”
Kaiya didn’t respond. Her senses were heightened, and she felt as if she was seeing for the first time. She thought to untie him, and little threads poked up curiously around the chair, slicing through the restraints that held Paxos. Sikka soldiers stood surrounding the platform now, their guns pointed at Kaiya, who tried to push herself off the floor, but couldn’t. She tried again, and this time, the green threads gently helped her to her feet. She balanced herself and faced them. It wasn’t a thought necessarily, just a simple, gentle desire to not have these soldiers pointing their guns at her. Immediately, the green threads crawled along the floor, up the soldiers legs, and around their guns. A sound like the crack of a whip echoed through the chamber as the threads flung the weapons aside. Then, the green threads that held each soldier pulsed at the thighs and knees, forcing the soldiers to kneel. One resisted, and regained control of his arms. Kaiya braced for a fight when a surge of threads came up on him and snapped his spine in half, tossing the body to the side on top of the pile of guns. The soldiers eyes glanced over and then looked to Kaiya, this time with fear that had overcome their anger. As if in a dream, she walked between them and through several doors she came to the massive doors of the building. She was too weak to open them herself, and gently, she desired them to be open. The threads obeyed and the doors opened before her. She gasped. From the stairs leading up to the door, down into the street, and all of the surrounding blocks, she saw the entirety of the Sikka military kneeling, with green threads forcing them in place. The wraiths were immobilized. The trackers were in their sleep position. Farther away she saw the thousands of Zealots and Hybrids kneeling for her as well, though no threads held them. Little blots moved on the street behind the Zealots, they were running towards her. Somehow she knew them by their run. Her friends, her crew, her family. They raced up the platform toward her, and nearly tackled her in a hug. Eros followed them up. A swell of pride rose up in him so strong it brought tears to his eyes.
“I think it’s time we had a little chat, Kaiya, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.”
“It’s okay, I understand why you did it.”
Eros helped Paxos who was still struggling to get up off the ground and gave him some water.
“You made it too, you old bastard,” Eros said, rubbing the man’s head.
“Yeah well I don’t think either of us would have if it weren’t for your kid. She’s really something.”
“I think it’s time we found out what happened to your mother,” and with that tears welled up in Kaiya’s eyes. She hugged him. The group turned now to face the kneeling thousands behind her. Her supporters stood and cheered. She lifted her hands above her head, and made a triangle touching her thumbs and index fingers to make the symbol of the Wrannamen.