N E O N T U N D R A
Far below a city of elegant stone and desolate earth stood a scientist. His eyes fluttered as the song of the Guardians, high above in their golden temples, filled the streets and assuaged the hearts of the people. The scientist clutched his own chest, unable to feel the warmth they promised.
He shook their song from his mind and busied his hands with potions and concoctions. Moving through a room lit only by the blue glow of magnetic water, he mixed and stirred and watched. And then—with a hitch of breath he stumbled backwards. His creation bubbled in its vial, and then grew. Orbs of round, bright, floating light burst from their containment, shaking with volatility.
The scientist stumbled backwards. He hesitated in the doorway—the warmth of these orbs—perhaps they were enough to end the Dark Winter that had descended upon the city.
The explosion forced him from the lab. He clawed his way up, up, through the dilapidated temple he had taken shelter in. Shards of stained glass fell from the shattered citadel and carved ravines in the floor. The exposed sky above shimmered with the orbs as they escaped the confines of the lab. As the tower continued to collapse, a distress call was issued to the Guardians. Help and Hope.
And then there were screams, hundreds of them. Red lights flickered with failing power as the alarm pulsed out, rhythmic and menacing.
The scientist clambered atop his motorcycle and donned his helmet as the pulsing beat consumed his hearing. On the horizon, looming over the dead, snow-capped mountains, was a Geometric Storm.
The motorcycle screeched as the tires gripped the broken earth. Through shattered buildings and over mangled bodies the scientist fled. The orbs of his failed experiment lit the way as people, objects, entire buildings were lifted into the air. He felt the tug on his helmet as the Storm threatened to swallow him.
He never slowed, even as he broke through the oxygen shield guarding the boundaries of the city, nor as his helmet began feeding him its own meager supply of oxygen.
It was only when he outran the Storm did he lean the motorcycle to the side and stare at the devastation he had wrought. He watched the Storm consume the far edge of the city, drawn towards the warmth of the orbs. One by one, their light was blotted out. As the screams became more distant and quiet, the scientist bowed his head. He Abandoned the people of the city, the ones he was trying to protect.
He walked. Blood dripped from his mouth and his chest no longer heaved as exhaustion gripped his lungs. His bike sat a mangled mess behind him, the fuel tank punctured by rock. Ghosts of color stalked every step, their echoes of laughter and happiness haunting his ears. He closed his eyes and stumbled forward. The Storm was so close.
He collapsed on the cliff edge. Below was the glow of magnetic water, trapped beneath translucent stone.
His shoulders fell limp as the Storm closed in overhead. The lake bubbled and sizzled. The water rumbled in the proximity of the storm, and broke through the stone effortlessly. The scientist was knocked to the ground as the water pulsed, joining the ranks of the storm. Energy swirled, building upon itself, growing larger and larger. As it reconstructed itself, it became more geometric, tamed. The scientist caught glimpses of the orbs within its center. He stared at his fingers in bewilderment. They were warm.
Coins fell from the stars. He looked up amidst the chaos, watching the coins shimmer in the neon light emanating from the cracked ground. Echoes of coughs, radio broadcasts, a grandfather yelling at his grandson—it all came back to him.
A burst of life. It pulsed from his chest, taking his breath away. He stumbled backwards as strings of neon emerged from his chest. They filled the world with life, warmth. Ghosts walked in the shadows of his neon, echoes of people he once knew—or were they?
The song of the Guardians cradled his chin and lifted his gaze. He watched their formless bodies mix with the storm, catalysts for disaster and destruction. They smiled upon him with neon glows as the ruins of the city smoldered in the distance.
On the horizon, a new version of the city rose, bathed in holographic neon. The breath left his body, caught in the pull of the Guardians. Their song filled his body and erased his worry as he was brought into their embrace of warmth.