Word count: 1959 Many of you will say that by telling this story, I am merely trying to promote my clan, however I have found that this story fits perfectly with the criteria of this competition. This will take place, according to the Prophecy, 3.3 years (of the Avian’s original home planet) before the time of ‘The Closing’. Through some time travel and much hard work in translating more of the prophecy, I have managed to put together the entire, however brief, story. I have named the races as to what I believe the Prophecy is referring to/describing, but, as I do not know the name of the robotic race, shall call this race ‘Robots’. Finally, instead of calling Destined Ones names such as ‘The Dark One’ or ‘The Brave One’, as the prophecy calls them, I have given them names. Best of luck to all other entries. Please excuse the paragraphs, for some reason I have not been able to indent the paragraphs, but I have managed to create a new line. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions below! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The 20 stood on the edge of a cliff, looking down at the chaos below. Three armies were approaching each other, from paths woven into the cliffs. They would meet in the 5 mile wide opening between them. To the right, were the Avians. The fearsome warriors calling out battle cries, pumping their plasma-headed spears into the air. To the left, were the deadly plant people, the Florans. They were walking at a steady pace, heads down. Straight ahead of the 20-the Destined One-was the most fearsome army of all. The Apex and the Robots had allied and together were a fearsome technological might. Mechs, rocket launchers, mega lasers, even an anti-matter artillery platform. They would crush the unorganised Avians and weaponless Florans. It was to be named the (near) Battle of Christmas by human historians. The oldest and wisest looking of the Destined Ones spoke, “We cannot let this battle commence, we must find The Artefact to reunite the races once again. They all believe the other stole it. Without a doubt this was caused by worshippers of The Closing.” “But Oggus, are you sure even retrieving The Artefact, assuming we can do so in time, will even work? The Avians and Apex perhaps, but the Robots and Florans?” Said Moshta, a shy and fidgety gal. For the first time in many years, a wrinkle of doubt passed across the wise Oggus’ face. "We have to try, even The Artefact won’t erase the memory of battle. Besides, it’s Christmas! We have less than an hour.” Nuppy, an Avian, spoke, “I’ll find it, I should’ve been guarding it.” And with that, the brave One headed off. ****** Nuppy reached his destination, the Temple of The Artefact. It was silly really, Nuppy thought to himself, the artefact had been the Destined Ones’ creation in the first place, a way to unite the races of the galaxy. They had masterminded the entire alliance. His brother, Mendax, had been a great help. He had been greatly responsible for keeping the ‘legend’ and worshipping of The Artefact alive in recent times. Nuppy looked up at the blockade of ships in the sky, to prevent The Artefact from leaving the planet. The Artefact had been implanted with a Phasjul emitting device. Phasjuls were Subatomic particles that stayed behind for 8.378 days and were impossible to detect without the right equipment. Nuppy had such equipment and was searching the area for traces. *BEEP* beeped the Phasjul tracker. Excited, Nuppy found another beep and another, until he was following the trail of phasjuls out of the temple and into the forest beyond. ****** Nuppy felt a pang of worry as he once again, for the third time in as many hours, thought of his brother Mendax and his recent abnormal behaviour. His brother, a dark lord, was starting to show signs of being overcome by the strength of the darkness. To make matters worse, Mendax had the power to see into the future. He had seen, in his curiosity, the future and The Closing. A horrible thing for any mortal to witness. Many seers had succumbed to the temptation of seeing The Closing and this explained why so few were alive today. Nuppy bumped his head. He realised he was at the low entrance to a cave and ducked down to crawl into it. As Nuppy’s eyes adjusted to the dim light emanating from the walls, he realised he was in an abandoned Apex research facility. Nuppy heard scuffling from above, looked up at it and then tripped on the corner of a Plavo tile. The figure lay in the shadows, it saw Nuppy trip and fall after looking at it, but the creature knew he was safely hidden from the Avian’s eyes. It watched him as he proceeded to follow the phasjul trail deeper into the dungeon. Nuppy tried not to look at the ‘experiments’ on both sides of him. His Phasjul tracker was indicating that the Phasjuls were very recent, only 1.7 hours old. (The Phasjul tracker shortens the Phasjuls’ lifeline, speeds up time using dark energy and calculates how long it would’ve taken in normal time for them to reach their end). As Nuppy felt he was getting closer to his goal, he once again bumped his head. I’ve really got to look forwards every now and then, thought Nuppy. He had hit a door. Nuppy could see it was locked with hydraulics and he had no chance of opening it. Just as Nuppy was about to curse and swear horribly in Avian, he once again heard scuffling. The scuffling was behind him, no, to the left, no to the right, wait, behind him again! Nuppy looked over his shoulder and startled when he returned his gaze. A slim, female Apex, was standing in front of him, not a metre away. “Who are you?” Asked Nuppy, still recovering from his shock. His hand had instinctively gone to his Avian plasma-headed spear on his left. “I am Torexxia, guardian of this place.” The Apex said calmly. “Guardian, why would you-“ “I understand you want to get past this door? You won’t be able to without my help. Follow me.” Nuppy hesitated, then followed the Apex as she walked away. He had to jog to keep up with her fast pace. ****** Nuppy looked around in wonder at the room he had followed Torexxia into. Technology that must be worth billions of pixels covered every inch of the walls. Despite the state of the dungeon it resided in, it all seemed new and state-of-the-art. “Is this the control room?” Asked Nuppy “Where did all of this technology come from?” “Not me,” Torexxia laughed “This equipment is managed and cleaned by service bots. It was well ahead of its time when it was made.” Torexxia flicked a switch and suddenly, Nuppy realised that the entire wall in front of him was actually a large window, as the cover for it split open and retracted into the walls. Lights flicked on in the massive room that he was looking out at. Nuppy gasped, the room he was looking out at was filled with mechs, plasma artillery and war machines. Service bots zoomed around cleaning, melding and wiring the machines. Torexxia flicked the switch again and the window was covered once again. “Here is the button that will open that door; I’m guessing you’re following the creature that came in just before? I didn’t help him; he found this place by himself. He seemed to have a certain evilness to him that I haven’t sensed in a long time.” Torexxia shook her head as her words trailed off, then promptly left the room. Nuppy pressed the orange button that Torexxia had shown him, then, arming himself with his spear, headed off on the trail of the thief. ****** Nuppy crept quietly into the room. Water dripped from the ceiling onto the rusty staircase in front of him. He checked his tracker; the thief had been through here only minutes ago. He descended the staircase and, to his amazement, saw The Artefact; right in front of him on an old desk. Nuppy took out an arsenic-oxygen-acid compound gas grenade. Acid-gas was a deadly combination; it could melt most air-filtering equipment and then poison those who were protected by it. He couldn’t take any unnecessary chances. “Come out of there now, or I will be forced to acid-gas the room.” Nuppy shouted out, more nervous sounding than he intended. He gasped as a horrific creature came out from the shadows of the room The Artefact was in. It’s face was twisted and dark; evil oozed out of it like a toxic river. It was dressed in old rags of faded red and white. “I am Santa Claus and I bring you presents!” The creature rasped. “I brought you your ball Nuppy! Remember your ball?” Nuppy took a step back, it must be a trick, one of the sick ways the servants of The Closing lured their victims. “Stay back, take one more step and I will be forced to use violence!” “Now Nuppy, what would your mother think?” The creature shook his head disapprovingly and took a step forward. “Being so rude to strangers, why couldn’t you be more like your Father?” The creature now took out a crudely wrapped box from what looked like an old, brown potato sack he was holding. “Go on, take it.” Nuppy dashed past the horrible creature and grabbed the artefact. He watched in horror as the creature’s left arm grew into what looked like a crude sword and its face twisted into a huge, gaping mouth full of sharp teeth the size of a shark’s. “Take it.” The creature screamed in a barely comprehensible voice. The creature suddenly collapsed forwards, revealing what had been sneaking up on it. Torexxia stood with a smug look, holding a stun mace. “Trust me, you don’t want to take it.” Torexxia said. Nuppy looked down at the ugly package. When he looked up again, Torexxia had disappeared. ****** Nuppy finally found the exit to the Apex dungeon. He pulled out and unfolded his hoverboard. He zoomed with amazing speed and skill towards the area where he believed the battle was about to take place. Nuppy reached the edge of what was to be a battlefield without his help. He looked up to where he believed the rest of the Destined Ones were standing. Distracted, his hoverboard hit a large rock and he rolled over it and onto his feet. He turned around and saw his hoverboard was broken in half. Without hesitation he turned again and began sprinting off to the middle of the open. Nuppy was less than a mile from the center of the battlefield and he was alarmed to see the Apex and Robots emerge from the cliffs to the left of him. Less than 5 seconds later the Avians and Florans, mouths bearing hideous teeth, emerged from in front and to the right of him respectively. Nuppy swore. The three armies charged. Nuppy needed all the armies to stop at once, or else the ones that didn’t would probably start slaughtering the other. The Apex were warming up their mech weapons, while the Robots were checking their artillery. Nuppy decided that he was close enough. “STOP!!!” He shouted. A few of the closest soldiers turned their heads temporarily. “I HAVE THE ARTEFACT!” The soldiers stopped shouting and halted. All heads were turned to him. Nuppy could picture the confusion in the spaceships above from the sudden turn in events. “It was not stolen! Not by any of you! Servants of The Closing did this, this is what they want! They want us to turn against each other! But we have no reason to do so, we should be sticking together, to fight The Closing!” Nuppy held The Artefact high above his head. For the first time, he did see that there was something special in The Artefact. Just the fact that it could bring so many completely different races together, even carnivorous plants with robots. Nuppy watched in relief as the Avians let their spears drop to the ground. The Apex then stepped out of their mechs, watching the Florans. Nuppy looked at the Florans too, who closed their mouths and made their symbol of peace with their hands. Nuppy collapsed on the ground, exhausted. ****** Nuppy opened his eyes and saw his brother Mendex, arms folded to the side of the room. His attention then came to Oggus, in front of the hover bed he was lying in, his face beaming with pride and relief. Nuppy knew that he had done his duty. He closed his eyes again, a smile on his face.