A Collaborative Collection

Prologue: Eventual Realization

By Eric "Erico" Lawson

March 14th, 2090 C.E

Baltimore, Maryland

The explosions continued to rumble in the distance; the air raid sirens had wailed for almost three days straight until they had been mercifully destroyed by an errant tactical CGM...'CGM' standing for conventional guided missile...that had probably been meant for a far more important topic than the main weather alert station. The city had been largely evacuated following the neutron bomb, which had spared a mere handful of the once staggeringly enormous population. The only consolation the authorities could offer to the refugees was that the neutron bomb that the South Atlantic coalition was using against the United States had more limited radioactive residue, and that Baltimore would be safe to inhabit once more within a year or so.
This was small solace to the man who stumbled through the sole district left untouched by the horrific warfare. Despite his salvation from a cruel, gasping death, he nonetheless found himself surrounded by the ruins of a place he had once called home...that his family had once...called home.
His footsteps unsure, he stumbled through the rubble of a few collapsed and burning homes here and there, the abandoned apartment complexes, and the few brave thieves who dared to loot possessions from a warzone. They passed him by without a second glance; he didn't try to stop them, and he doubted he could have. No, madness and chaos was the order of the day. It was unlikely his more rational mind could have done anything to dissuade them. He only hoped that one particular structure had been left untouched by the sins of mankind.

His heart fell when he finished his trek and found the half standing remains of a place he had once thought of as his second home. Liandra College was a small, private institution whose main funding had come out of the Second Rainbow decades earlier. And the history building, the place that Devon Trent had worked in as Professor Green's assistant, stood starkly against the rubble of the College. Half of the building was missing, but it still stubbornly stood, three walls holding it against the sunset as the fourth, blasted to pieces by enemy bombardment, revealed the interior of the three story structure. It too, like everything else, was abandoned. He found it ironic, despite the pain of his injuries and his grief filled mental state, that it was the building dedicated to the knowledge of the past that stood when everything else was but an insurance writeoff. He made his way inside, stepping through and into the first floor's lecture hall, ignoring the dull lighting. The electricity had long since been cut off, leaving Devon to muddle his way around the building by the fading light of day.
Moving into the offices of the building, he found the door to his former superior's office jarred open by the explosion, and books once so tidily kept on shelves fallen to the floor and ruined by the emergency water sprinklers.
"Gone." He mumbled to himself. "All...gone."
A glint of something unnatural in the musty smelling room of ruined tomes and old mahogany, a priceless relic in a world of Treeborg wood and fauna, caught his eye. There, on his old professor's desk sat a device partially covered by papers never quite graded.
Devon waded through the soggy sea of historical texts on the floor and claimed the glinting object; With a small and sad smile, he fingered the object in his hand. It was Professor Green's old digital recorder, which he had used to save his lectures for later reference. Checking the charge and finding it still good, Devon walked out of the offices and back into the lecture hall.
It was mostly routine that drove him as he sat down in the back of the room, leaning his elbows on the long table and staring towards the front where the smartboard hung cracked and forlorn. On a typical day, he would come in and observe his mentor give a lecture to the class, taking notes on technique and material covered, one of the more welcome breaks to his otherwise exhausting schedule of being Green's errand boy.
Devon looked down at the device in his hand again, as if for the first time. He flipped open the side to look at the devices' viewscreen, checking the memory. Almost full...and he knew, with the most mindless dribble his mentor ever put out.
A thought hit Devon then, and he pressed a series of buttons, erasing the memory to start fresh. "Sorry, Doc." Devon muttered. "But right now, I need this more than you do."
And so he leaned back in his chair, looked up to the rubble of the floors above him, and began to speak in a clear and concise tone, managing to stumble through the date with some difficulty before collecting himself enough to continue.
"My Devon Trent. I don't know who will be picking this message up, or who will be hearing my voice...if anyone the years to come. I would hope that I survive long enough to pass on my message in a more tangible form. But if I don't...Then at least there is this."
"My children...everyone I knew is dead now. The authorities tried to clear out all the survivors from Baltimore after the anthrax bomb hit, but...I couldn't go. Go where? A refugee camp, where despair and wailing voices echo? No. As a student of a member of the staff at the now destroyed Liandra Institute of the Fine Arts...I know enough about the waves of time to recognize how harmful to the psyche such things are. Better that...better that I stumble through the ruins alone, than to face the collective grief of an entire city in an area smaller than the size of this campus. I've come back here...I suppose, because there is nowhere else to go. Where else could I go? My home...destroyed. All communication is down, and even the internet, that supposedly steadfast bastion of information has been lost in this newest conflict. I know nothing of the outside world, and it may well be...That there is nothing left.

In the traumatic decade of 2040, humanity's tensions came to a boil at last. The population had grown to overwhelming numbers, mankind had become a stagnant creature. The demands for food, energy...all natural resources...outstripped the demand, even with technological advances. And so, as is the habit of my species, the leaders of all nations turned to the unthinkable...Total War. Some call it World War Three...others call it The Wars of 2040, putting it on an entirely different scale. For indeed, unlike the two World Wars of the 20th Century, the Wars of 2040 were brought to every nation. Every spot of inhabited land became akin to a warzone...And the toll was dire."
"Humanity almost destroyed itself. The use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield left vast swaths of earth uninhabitable by human life, and the population, while no true figure can be reached, is estimated to have dwindled to 42% of its initial size. It was only then, with the planet poisoned, almost all resources consumed, and the folly of war made all too painfully evident to a new generation, that mankind reached for salvation. The nations of the world reached a unified cease fire in 2047, and it was only scant weeks later that the brightest and best scientific minds put together a group called "The Second Rainbow", referring to some archaic biblical passage or another. It took them nearly two decades to undo what politicians and the military had done in just one, and even then, it was rough going. But society, as best as it could be, was preserved, and humanity was saved from extinction. The most noticeable advancement made by the Second Rainbow during their work...was in the field of robotics. But I digress, I do not wish to talk about that. For I hope that somewhere...someone has already stored the information of that age...the age of robots...robotics...of Light, and Wily, and Mega Man. Even word of mouth will keep that legend alive."
Devon Trent looked around the room again, pausing his recording. For a moment, he thought he had heard an ominous creaking...but it had stopped, if it had ever existed in the first place. He shook his head and began to speak again, pushing past his exhaustion as if he was suddenly driven by a stronger force, a force that told him...
It had to be told.

"Halfway through 2085, Wily and Mega Man went missing...and Light went missing as well, really, though I suspect he might just have become a hermit. In October of 2087, Mount Fuji erupted and buried all of Tokyo and the land between it and around it and the old mountain. And in 2090, perhaps because Wily had pushed world tensions so high that all were on alert...the world fights again. The UN, once ignored by the nations of the world in 2040, has been completely abolished. I don't know even now why exactly this fight takes place...maybe it's not for me to know. But it is for me to record. All around me, the world is changing, humanity is destroying itself, perhaps for good, but hopefully not...All I can do, even hope. Hope that the leaders of this stupid and useless war will realize their folly far sooner than last...and stop the bloodshed. There is no Wily now to terrorize the planet. There is no Mega Man to fight against him...maybe because he is no longer needed. But somehow, the rest of us still live, and the planet moves on. Theirs was but one story...there are others."
The creaking grew louder, turning into a groan.

"I don't know what will come next. I don't know what history of the planet mankind will write, and I don't know who will become the most influential. But what I do that despite all of that, there will still be others with their own stories. Not every tale is publicized, not every great struggle is put into print. As for, I'm not a story. I'm a statistic now. Just another person perhaps dead without realizing it...for as much as I have stumbled around today, that could well be the case.
"I hope...I hope that this recording finds its way into hands that will know how to use it, how to preserve it for future generations. I hope that this recording finds a tomorrow with promise in it, and not despair. And I hope that just like myself...that no matter how bad things become, no matter how dark the night...that humanity will survive, that it will WALK IN THE SUN AGAIN. There are stories untold out there...people just like me, struggling to live. And that will always be the case. I suppose in the end I have but one wish for the listener of this recording...that you look long and hard for those stories never told, never made famous. And I hope that you listen to their message well...for they may well just prove to be..."

The groan turned into a shriek, and not pausing the recording, Devon Trent flashed his eyes up just in time to scream and recoil as the building finally collapsed on top of him. The voice recorder, flung from his hand in the instant before he was crushed under tons of steel, brick, and concrete, continued to tape the final grisly moments of his life. And then came silence as the dust settled and the wind gently blew by the terrible scene.
The voice recorder would go on recording the quiet rumbling ambience of the forgotten city named Baltimore for some time before it ran out of memory.
It finally stopped the next morning.

After the sunset...
And long enough to see the sun rise.