Erasing Mistakes Chapter 1
By Alex Weitzman
Characters, things, events, and places in this story are based on Squaresoft's Xenogears. Sue us.
It was just plain wrong.
Miang had heard already of the dual bombing on the main continent, and that there would literally be no activity down below her private jet was of no surprise to her. There truly couldn't be any - if Ignas' humongous nuclear bomb hadn't cleared all the life in its range away, their equally large biogenetic destabilizer would ensure that the surrounding area would never be the same again.
Still, the silence was wrong. She might not have been able to hear anything anyway, but she could sense the lack of life down below her. It was her nature to sense life around her, though that life held little meaning for her beyond walking, talking, decaying pieces of Deus.
She sighed and pulled her head from the window, returning to her laptop. She shut it quickly, however, once her new aide walked back into the section of the jet. "Ms. Chief Executive of Staff....ma'am?"
"Please, call me Ilia. Or Miss Hawwa, as you see fit."
"Ahem....Miss Hawwa," the subordinate corrected himself, opting for the more deferential choice of titles. "Here are the reports on the damage done by Ignas' bombs, as you requested. The results, having looked over them myself, are not very pleasing."
Miang took the file and started to review the contents. One particular sheet of paper caught her eye, which prompted those very eyes to widen. The aide, watching her very carefully, almost thought he saw a slight glow in the back of her pupils.
As he looked in closer, the pupils shifted to him. "Thank you, Paul. That will be all." Paul, the aide, straightened himself out again and headed back towards his compartment of the jet. Miang, now alone, looked once more at the map she was reacting to. The fact that the bomb's blast diameter and the Aquvy capital, Zeboim, were on the same page was enough to make her very nervous. The nuclear bomb had, by this report, hit far away enough from Zeboim to not have major traces of radiation seeping into the city. Miang also knew that the Aquvy civilization had recently been able to remove radiation from the soil - mostly. That lack of completeness worried her, and there could have been radiation seeping in from before the government's initialization of such purging maneuvers.
It was, however, the other bomb that worried her greatly. The entire capital was just on the outskirts of the diameter of the biogenetic destabilizer. The report said that the city was clean; it was, in fact, that very truth that allowed the Prime Minister to call his Chief Executive of Staff back from her handling of problems in eastern Aquvy. Still, the people had been contaminated.
"This could be a remarkable problem..." Miang mused, tossing the papers like filthy rags to the next seat.
It rained that day. Quite appropriately, Betty thought to herself. Jake always did love the rain, since people were less interested in picking up a newspaper that would just get soggy than in merely turning on the news channel.
She had come from one of the new graveyards, paying her final respects to her former head honcho. Many empty lots had been converted into graveyards in the last month, due to the massive death toll that had plagued Zeboim. The majority of those deceased were over 35, like Betty's 54-year-old boss, Jake. Due to such a drop in the population, many younger associates had been taking over the responsibilities of running the still-existing businesses. Betty, walking into the building of her news channel, knew that her station was lucky to have an experienced 28-year-old former reporter like herself around to run the place, whereas several businesses had to cope with an intern as the boss.
After stopping off at her office to pick something up, Betty went over to the desk of Lune, who was sitting there in her catastrophe of organization. Lune may not have been a maid, but Betty saw something in the high school graduate who just was promoted to a full-time reporter. Something like what Betty used to be before taking on the boss role.
Seeing Betty make her way over, Lune straightened some of the mess up to allow her supervisor to lean on the desk without getting a letter opener in the palm. "Well, what's the scoop, Looney Lune?" Betty typically took a more pleasant persona with the young ones.
"Oh, I'm actually just filling out some forms to put my younger siblings in my custody." Lune held up the paperwork. "Nothing like bureaucracy to make things difficult."
Betty smiled. "By the way, are you on assignment?"
Lune shook her head. "Just finished writing some reports for the anchors, so I'm between responsibilities right now."
"Good. I've got something for you, and I'd like you to report it in the field once you tell me it's ready."
Lune furrowed her brow. "No kidding?"
Betty stood up straight and flopped the papers she had grabbed from her office down upon Lune's desk in a clean spot. Lune picked it up and started circulating through the documents. Coming upon a realization, she asked, "These are records of the government officials?"
"Where they've been for the past two months and so. Tell me what you notice."
Lune went back to the papers, scanning more carefully this time. After several minutes, she said, "Well, it looks like the city officials have all been in town on a normal schedule. Most of the Cabinet was out for several weeks before the bombs with Ilia Hawwa, the Chief Executive of Staff, managing some issues in eastern Aquvy. And the Prime Minister left for northern Aquvy to calm down a strike two days before the bombs with..............his family?!"
"Good eye," Betty grinned. "I don't recall any strike, particularly not one to bring the wife and kids to."
Lune nodded and set the papers down. Betty continued, "Your assignment is investigatory. Try and find out why our dear old Prime Minister had such good fortune in keeping himself out of harm's way. See what you can dig up for a week. If you have enough to make 10 minutes of air time, we'll put you on then; if not, you can always go next week."
Betty rummaged through the file and opened it to a particular page. It was adorned with about ten names, numbers, and addresses. "These are my governmental contacts. Mention my names and you'll be okay."
Lune flashed a smile and said, "Thanks, Betts." She immediately started dialing some numbers. Betty walked away feeling proud of herself. She'd set it up for Lune perfectly. Someday, she figured, that girl will have my job.
"Two days before the explosion....." Miang shook her head sadly as she muttered. She was finally back in her office, and then she had to deal with that moron's political infallacies AGAIN. She glanced again at the new report she just read. Hubert had left to go put down a strike. And that stupid bastard took his family with him. She didn't know if the fool was deliberately avoiding the bomb strike from Ignas' Mass-driver, but she did know that the media was going to pounce on it once he tells his people why he was conveniently out of the blast radius.
In walked John Gallio, the Secretary of Health, carrying his briefcase in his harried manner. One of the most timid men around. Then again, he was only a clinical doctor before his buddy Hubert got elected and dragged John with him. "Ilia, I need to schedule a meeting with the Prime Minister."
"What is the matter?" Miang asked.
"He sorely needs to be briefed on what my medical experts have told me about the situation here in Zeboim."
"So do I. Sit." Miang sat at her desk and motioned for John to sit at the chair in front of her. He looked like he might protest and say he should take it right to the Prime Minister, but he seemed to relent before arguing at all.
Sitting, he said, "Well, what do you want to hear about first?"
Miang looked him right in the eyes. Her focus was unusually strong, but she was not pulling any magical tricks. Rather, her interest in the issue at hand was particularly enhanced. "Tell me about the biochemical destabilizer."
John sighed. "Oh, geez........that stuff........"
"Did you get a sample, at least?" Miang prodded, raising her voice a little.
"Oh, sure. The cleaners were intelligent enough to collect some destabilizer before releasing the nullifying agent."
John stopped talking for a bit. Miang's knuckles were getting somewhat tense. "Please don't make me have to remind you that the point of talking to me is to provide me with information."
"Very well," he said while swallowing. "Anyway, the destabilizer is literally a death warrant. Its agent is a 'smart enzyme'. This enzyme is able to tell the age of the body it inhabits, and naturally its cells' age as well. The destabilizer then changes the cellular stamina of the victim."
"Stamina?" Miang asked. This better not be heading where she feared it was.
"As in, life expectancy."
Both John and Miang remained silent, him for a lack of desire to continue, her for allowing the truth to sink in. Then he spoke up again. "The current death toll is staggering, and it doesn't take a medical expert to see that 95% of the deceased is over their mid-30s. Our suspicions are that, in the coming months, we will see people who reach the age of 30 to be more sickly and descending into death." John lowered his head in shame, almost as if he was to blame for it. "The Aquvy lifespan has been horribly slashed."
The sound of a mug crashing into the wall raised John's head again. Miang's coffee cup lay in pieces on the other side of the room, and her head lay in her hands in frustration. He was somewhat surprised; the news was bad, but this kind of tantrum was a little unexpected.
You'd think she's failed at something, he wondered.
John swallowed hard and said, "There.....is something else."
Miang looked up from her hands with a blank stare. What else could have gone wrong? "More, you say?"
"Yes," John said as he cleared his throat. "We have the results of the effects of the nuclear bomb on Zeboim."
Miang blinked. "I already reviewed the report on the radiation. It didn't hit us. We were apparently spared thanks to the radiation removal system."
"However, radiation did find its way into the city, we think."
She tapped a pencil impatiently. "Why are you so uncertain about your statement?"
John reached into his briefcase and pulled out several reports from varying hospitals located in the city. Miang took them and looked them over, scanning for the pertinent information. After several minutes, she looked up and said, "All of these hospitals are reporting female patients having difficulty with their menstrual cycles."
"Exactly," John responded. "It seems that the women whom have been examined for those symptoms regarding their menstruations have been discovered to be....infertile."
Miang dropped the papers suddenly. "Infertile?!"
"Infertile. The female populous, according to these reports, are increasingly being identified as unable to breed. Such a sudden change has led the medical officers in my department to suspect that our radiation protection was incomplete the first time around, or that the removal efforts weren't fast enough. These types of difficulties can only be branded as mutations."
Miang's eyes widened. This couldn't be happening.
John, looking right at her, watched as her temples started to throb a little. Then, he caught sight of some sort of blue glow in the back of her eyes.
Just as it appeared, the glow dissipated just as quickly. Miang shook her head a little and said, "Well, I appreciate your willingness to share your information with me. You wanted to schedule an appointment to report these findings to Hubert, right? Well, he's coming back from northern Aquvy in a couple of days, so he'll be available then. Talk to his secretary for his exact schedule."
John Gallio rose from his seat. "Thanks, Ilia. I'll....tell your aides that you could use a new coffee cup."
Miang looked over at her mess. "Heh, yeah. Thank you, John. See you later."
He walked out, ignoring the nagging feeling in the back of his mind that maybe he shouldn't have told her all of that information.
Watching him exit, Miang got up and started to pick up the pieces of her mug. Which gave her an idea.
General Radisson -
As you know, our country has suffered a horrible attack by the forces on the continent of Ignas. This will not be an isolated incident. To protect my constituents, I am issuing you this declaration of war.
Prepare for a counterattack immediately. My official suggestio
The private line of Miang's videophone, connected to a small red light on her desk, interrupted her typing of the letter to the military. She snickered to herself. NOW they decide to call.
She pressed her intercom outgoing button and said, "Paul, I'm locking my door. I will see absolutely nobody, not even if it's the Prime Minister himself."
"Okay, Miss Hawwa," the intercom buzzed back. Miang pressed another button that slid a large metal lock into place on her office door, and then she activated the videophone.
A screen rose out of her desk and clicked itself on. There, on the screen, was the picture of a bluish human form whose hair was thinning quite drastically on all sides and whose eyes were losing the intensity of their pupils.
"Why must you make us wait before you answer the phone?" The form sounded annoyed. This did not faze Miang whatsoever, whom went straight back to typing the letter.
"Why, Irad," she said, "do you mean to tell me that all twelve of you are right there? It's not just your pleasant self calling me personally?"
"You know perfectly well I am your contact with the rest of the Gazel. I speak in the plural to remind you of that fact."
Miang shot a glare at Irad on the screen. "And I take my time to ensure that my position is not compromised when you call to remind YOU of the fact that you and the Gazel are hardly my superiors."
Irad's gaze remained adamant. Changing the subject, he said, "What is the status on the approaching Time of the Gospel?"
This got a quick laugh out of Miang. "You must be kidding me, Irad. Do you fools honestly believe that the Time of the Gospel is still on schedule?"
"The Gaetia Key is shaking, Miang!"
"And you're a delusional simp, Irad! Would you resurrect God now?"
Irad's anger burned through the screen. "Do you mean to imply that we have been waiting 6,000 years for nothing?!"
Miang shook her head in amusement. "I'll bet that Cain had nothing to do with this call."
"No, he is currently spending a decade or so in the life-extending machines. You see, those machines can only keep the thirteen of us going for so long. Already you can see the signs of decay on my body. Us Animus need to align in time with our Anima so that the Time of the Gospel can occur!" Irad's voice quivered with desperation. Miang could feel his worry coming through. Unfortunately, the spoiling events had already occurred, and she could do nothing to make this process any easier.
Miang stopped typing for a second and leaned into the screen. "Am I to assume that you haven't heard what's been going on down here?"
"Our interest in the political motives of these Lambs is nothing more than an uninteresting hobby. We have little use for~"
"Shut up and read this," Miang interrupted. Connecting her laptop to the screen, she uploaded her electronic copies of the reports of the current damages and results over to Irad.
After several minutes, all Irad could be heard to say was, "This cannot be."
"Oh, yes, it can. I've felt the alterations in the Lambs within my existence itself. If you try and push your Time of the Gospel now, you will find yourself with a god who will sustain existence for six minutes. Maximum."
"But...." Irad lamely protested.
"Come off it, Irad," Miang said, going back to the typing. "You just don't have enough parts. For all we know, proper humans who will become one with god are already deceased due to the destabilizer."
Irad stayed silent. Miang looked at him and said, "Stop pouting."
"Pouting?" Irad angrily shot back. "Our time is past!"
"Don't be such a moron. The Key will shake again. Ignore it for now. What we need to do is rid ourselves of the contaminated Lambs in this region. We need a war." Miang put the finishing touch on the letter - her program's ability to place a picture-perfect signature of Hubert O'Donovan on the file ready for printing.
Irad furrowed his brow. "How do you propose we ensure that the remaining humans will make proper parts for god, and how can we ensure that such a disaster never happens again?"
Miang looked at Irad, who now got a good look at a facial expression Miang had never expressed before. A grin of deviousness and deception. "Trust me. You're going to LOVE my idea."
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