"PROLOGUE: WATCHERS AND WATCHMAKERS"
From The Technowizard Guardians Of The Infinite Worlds Of Fandom
Author's Note: This chapter has not been edited.
Worlds hung in the balance, and anxiety-ridden Angels looked on in what Humans might’ve called “fear.” Well, to Humans they would have been Angels; and to them, Humans would have been mere Apes. Though of course, it would be more proper to call these beings what every other species in the cosmos called them in whispered voices carried on the winds of myth and legend: The Watchers. And yet, powerful as they had evolved to become, they still felt this primal emotion: Fear. Fear that all their delicately laid threads of fate and kismet would, at any moment now, all come unraveled and undone, and could at any second go flying apart and hurl themselves into the void, a web of torn and ragged threads all whirling loose and scattered astray, and all due to their misplaced faith in what Humans simplistically called “Free Will.”
The Girl. She knew how to fight; that much was obvious. She punched and kicked with all the force she could muster, but with the speed and precision of a sniper thanks to her electromechanical Exosuit; she fought like a whirlwind unleashed from a storm, an animal enhanced with cybernetic skills and then set loose from some mad scientist’s laboratory. (It helped that the Girl herself was, in fact, a mad scientist.) She fought, with punches and kicks, and not “as though” her life depended on it, but in fact because her life depended on it; hers and several others’, including the life of the dear adopted uncle whom she loved very much, and whom the man she fought had taken prisoner. That man—no, he was no longer a man, but now a monster—presented an Evil unlike any she had faced before. And though the Girl knew it not, upon the outcome of this fight, there depended the fate of entire worlds, the fates of a thousand branching, arcing parallel universes, and the fates of dimensions where dwelled creatures beyond her wildest imaginings. If she lost, then so too would they be.
The Watchers had wound the threads of the tapestry of fate around this Girl good and tight, and they branched off from her in literally a million different directions and into the Ether of Time and Destiny, influencing and touching the lives of billions, but the Girl had no knowledge of this . . . All she knew was that she had to win, had to defeat the Evil. She threw another punch and it landed on the jaw of the monster she fought; he rebounded from the blow, and the motors in his own Exosuit whirred as he came back at her and threw a snap-kick at her chest; the blow connected, knocking her back a few paces. But still, she fought on, undaunted. The Watchers felt proud of her. They had done well when they had crafted her genetics while she had still been inside her mother’s womb. Now if only she could live through these crucial, pressing moments . . .
The special Boy they had crafted, on the other hand—and whom they had had such big plans for—was in even deeper trouble at the moment. At least from a certain point of view, and it didn’t take a Watcher to see it. A deep grimness had torn open his heart, and a bleakness clouded his vision of the world; dysphoric clouds obscured his sight of the future’s far horizon—of any future at all, really, and not just his own or the futures of those whom he loved. His world was painted all in blacks and greys, with no rainbows in sight, though whenever there were rainbows, they blinded him with their brilliance. Had they—the Watchers asked themselves—made a mistake when they had touched his DNA in the womb and given him the riches of intellect and imagination that they had? Had they gone too far and created too many dangerous side-effects for him to realistically deal with in his day-to-day existence? Had they, in fact, given him a gift that had also driven him mad? What they saw told them that the Boy’s mind was unraveling faster than the tapestry of fate that they had constructed around him; if he made the wrong choice now, all would be lost . . .
Around the Boy, the threads of that tapestry swirled as though he were a maypole, wound perhaps even tighter than they were around the Girl. They reached outward from him and into a dizzying network of spiraling, interconnected fractal patterns—fluxing, pulsating, and influencing a thousand worlds beyond him, alive with the energy of Time. There were Dragons in his future. Dragons, Vampires, visitors from Other Worlds, and journeys through Dreamshard Universes. And of this, the Boy had no knowledge. All he knew was that at the moment, he hurt, he ached, and oh so deeply; he felt a gnawing loneliness and a pain deep inside that he was convinced he could no longer endure; he knew it was only temporary, for it came in great rushing waves with the illness he suffered from, as well as did the euphorias he sometimes weathered, but he had grown weary of the constant turbulence, the neverending churn of those waves, their endless peaks of rapture and valleys of despondancy. And as he toyed gingerly with the gun he held in his hands, feeling along its smooth surface and reflecting upon what a bullet would actually feel like as it burrowed into his brain and killed him, his own universe grew dimmer, darker, swallowed by shadow, fear, and sadness . . . as well as the slow death of his soul from asphyxiation in the black clouds of depression. He cried out silently for help, but even his dearest friends could not hear him railing within the prison his own neurochemistry had fashioned for him.
Now the time had come. The Watchers eyeing the Girl and the Boy all sucked in a breath and held it. The eldritch clockwork of the universe paused in its ticking.
The Girl’s battle had almost reached a climactic turning point, and as for the Boy, he was about to make his final decision regarding the bullet in that gun.