Just Another Wall — Explode

“We have to go back!” the small, floating robot yelled, “I can’t hear it anymore. It’s…something happened.”

“Calm down,” you ordered, “be more specific. What’s wrong?”

“It’s not there anymore,” he declared, “like something…smothered it.”

“That’s preposterous. What would even be powerful enough to do that?”

“Nothing good. We have to go back. What if they need us?”

“Hold on. When did you first notice this? Could it just be because we’re so far away from earth?”

“Out this far I only catch bursts every once in a while, so it was probably a few days since I last heard anything, but now… it’s like I’m hearing that I’m not hearing it, like there’s a vacuum that was never there before.”

“You know we can’t go back. They would never accept me. Accept us.”

The diminutive automaton made a series of unpleasant thinking noises.

“There’s more than you at stake here,” your dragon joined in, placing a scaly paw upon your shoulder. “You absolutely can’t betray that for my sake.”

“I’m sure it’s fine. There’s got to be a logical explanation for-”

A blinding light followed by a tremendous shockwave rocked the ship, the gravity generators struggling to compensate for the unprecedented inertial effects.

“Okay, whatever that was has even me feeling like I could jump into your pocket and resurrect you. I agree with the little guy, we don’t have a choice but to go back.”

“But you’ll-”

“Deal with whatever comes. That was the arrangement. You saving the universe takes precedence. And if I can play a part in that, there would be no sweeter victory.”

“Fine. We’ll go,” you decided, “but we’re coming up with a plan on the way back.”

“Wait, I can’t chart a path back. It’s like… The entire solar system is hiding. How is that possible?”

“Is Earth-” you started, not daring to finish your own question.

“No, I can still reach some old comm relays, I just…” he sighed in frustration, “I can’t explain, it’s as if there’s no path from here to there.”

“I can get you there,” the pensive dragon declared, “or rather… I can wish for it, if you can grant it.”

“Can I?”

“I think you’re ready. You have the potential; you just need to exercise it. Imagine a universe brought out of balance by my wish and then bring it back into alignment. Once you strike that compromise, the wish will be ready.”

“I’ll try,” you agree hesitantly. The idea made sense, but left immeasurable room for catastrophe.

“Perfect,” your mellifluous companion began, his voice carrying such conflicted emotion you were almost taken aback, “I wish, O dearest friend, that you were no longer burdened by the weight of my existence. I wish you were free to follow your calling. I wish an end to your self-imposed exile. And more than anything, I wish you’ll remember how much you’ve meant to me in our time together.”

A frenzy of thoughts clouded your mind as it felt more like the wish magic were starting to use you, rather than the other way around. Visions played in your eyes. Permutations of reality where the wish had been granted, blueprints for both reward and concession. You started seeing glimpses of how his wish would play out, and you quickly realized that every single one of them was wrong. That it was missing something, that there was something unquestionably wrong.

That’s when you realized exactly what his wish really was. He knew the intricate workings of the wish magic, of the convergence upon which all possible solutions would center. Futures where you were once more a hero, where your adventures grew ever more exciting, where nothing could stand in your way. Futures where he was killed, captured, tortured, enslaved, carved into trinkets for the greediest and worst of humanity’s protectors. Futures where you reaped the reward and he suffered the consequences. Futures you couldn’t abide.

While his faith in your ability was inspiring, you felt awash as the wish magic toyed with you. You struggled for mental purchase as the universe screamed at you to give in, concede, resolve the wish, seal his fate. But against the tides battering you from all directions, you remained resolute. You pulled at threads, carefully weaving things in a direction that reforged the wish, forming a new balance of your own making. And you felt the universe bend to your commands, the rough seas once more parting to leave you – and him, safe and sound.

“Alright,” you declared, “I’ve got a plan.”

Both of the other occupants of your ship looked at you incredulously, having expected some more immediate evidence of the wish than simply having a plan.

“You,” you nodded toward your floaty robot. “If we can’t chart a path for Earth directly, let’s get as close as we can. Aim us towards the strongest signal you can find and let’s hope for the best.”


“And you,” you turned toward the surprised dragon, trying to conceal just how angry you were, how scared you had been for him, “don’t you ever do that again.”

“I was just trying-”

“You were trying to make my decision for me. And it’s not yours to make. When you entrusted your fate to me, that was a responsibility I took willingly. What you tried to do there, what you knew the wish magic would serve up as an answer to your wretched demands, you tried to deny me that decision.”

“I’m sorry,” he apologized, “I didn’t want you to feel any guilt doing what must be done.”

“You should be. Because if you think there’s a universe where I could lose you and not suffer for it, you must not know me at all.”

“You can’t choose me over yourself-”

“I can,” you declared, “and I have.”

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