Chapter 28:

The Eleventh Hour

Tetraprisma: Chromatic

“Sydney?” Aka gasped. “What the hell! Of course it’s Sydney!” He clenched his fists in anger.

She looked at him keenly. “What now?”

“You just– you teamed up with the time travelers! What the heck!” he groaned. “What’d they do to convince you? And where’d you get the suit?!”

I elbowed him. “She is one of the time travelers, dumbass.”

“You mean… you’ve been from the future the whole time? Is that how you’ve known everything?” he questioned.

Sydney set the angel mask on Milliheim’s desk and sighed. “No, Aka. I’ve just arrived with the other travelers. At this point in time, there are two Sydney Wilrons in Atlas.” She pulled her gloves tight. “I’ve no clue why fate beckons me back to this time so often, but here I am.”

“Does the real Sydney know about you?” He cleared his throat. “I mean, uh, the present Sydney.”

“Yes. I’ve known about all of this for years. I wish I could tell you everything, but fate won’t allow it.”

Milliheim stood up. “Would someone mind explaining what in the world is going on here?”

“I’ll take a shot at it,” I said. “It seems like Sydney’s one of the time travelers, but she won’t tell us crap because of her weird fate thing.”

“Weird fate thing? What do you mean?”

“Apparently, uh… she’s, like, a prophet or something, but she’s only allowed to do what fate tells her to. I dunno, I just get the gist of it.”

Milliheim turned to future Sydney. “Is this true of our present-day friend, too?”

“Yes,” she replied sullenly. “God is not so merciful.”

Whatever that’s supposed to mean. “So, uh… is there anything you can tell us? At all?” I asked her.

“The clock is ticking, just as the intercoms said. In forty-eight hours, Atlas will meet her fate. Whatever that will be has already been decided.”

Aka lowered his gaze, slouching over in his chair. “So you mean… whatever happens, we can’t do anything to change it?”

“You are key players in the events. It doesn’t matter the outcome, you are the participants.” She picked up the mask and put her hood back on. “The result is not yours to choose, but it is yours to create. I trust you’ll relay this to the rest of the Sector.”

Milliheim took a seat and continued to type. “You said you wanted the shields up? With backups active, too?”

Sydney nodded, putting her mask back on. I could still see her tucked orange hair peeking out behind the wings. “Yes. Make sure backups are routed to Arena Omega. We’ll put one of our five there to guard it. He’s exceptionally skilled with weapons.”

“Hey! However good he is, I’m way better, alright? You know my ability, Milliheim. Sydney, put me in there with him,” Aka suggested.

Sydney stared at him. “I’ll forward your suggestion to Foxmask. But, between you and me,” she whispered, leaning in, “she’ll likely try her best to decline it, after what happened to you when we went through the attack.”

“What?” But she was already walking out the door. Aka scrambled to his feet. “Hey, wait, what the heck?!”

Sydney gave us one last glance. “Call me Angelmask, please. We can’t have everyone knowing who I am, now can we?” The doors shut behind her, sending just the slightest gust at all of us. Our fate was as uncertain as the wind.

I woke up that next morning still uncertain. I’d tried to gather my thoughts, but I was too tired to think straight. Now, fully rested, I still wasn’t at ease about it. Trying to take my mind off of it, I looked over at the clock. 5:59. Wait, that means it’s almost…

“Gooood mornin’, Shiera!” Aubrey exclaimed, bursting open the door just as the clock hit six. “Oh, wow. Yer already awake. Didja set an alarm early or somethin’?”

“No, I just went to bed early,” I replied. “We’re not going on any missions or anything. Why the hell are you up so early?”

“Ahah…” Aubrey averted her eyes. “No reason.”

I flipped over my sheets and stood up with a stretch. “I didn’t know you got around.”

“No, I… I was checkin’ on your brother,” Aubrey explained. “Nothin’ weird.”

“That’s still weird.”

Aubrey shrugged. “Eh, whatever. It’s the day before the terrorist attack. Can ya really call anything weird when we got that goin’ on?”

“I was trying to get my mind off of that,” I grumbled. “So what the heck are you up to?”

“Just checkin’ on ya.”

“You could’ve checked in at, like, any reasonable time.”

“What, six ain’t reasonable?”

“Maybe for you, it is.” I slid out of bed. “Classes start at ten.”

Aubrey grinned. “Which is why we gotta check out those time travelers now!”

“Oh, God,” I hissed. “Please don’t tell me you got me up at six in the morning just so we could spy on the time travelers.”

“C’mon, it’ll be fun! You know yer curious.”

“Do I have a choice?”


“Fine,” I said. “Let me get dressed, at least.”

I took a moment to find my hoodie and jeans, and before Aubrey could force me to wear her old suit, I slipped them on. Within the minute, we were out in the hallways, dim lights reflecting on the glossy wooden floor.

Not many students were awake this early in the morning, so Aubrey and I were just as alone walking down the empty halls as we were talking in the guest dorm. “Do ya know where they’re stayin’?” Aubrey asked.

“Wait. You don’t know where we’re going?”

“I thought we’d just figure it out along the way. Y’know, classic Aubrey and Shiera, detective duo.”

I let out a long, exaggerated sigh. “Let’s check the cathedral. That’s where they gave the presentation.”

“See? Look at ‘er, she’s sleuthin’ it out. ‘Atta girl.”

I rubbed my eyes and groaned. “I’m going to claw your eyes out.”

“But that’s my job!”

We happened to be heading in the cathedral’s general direction, so we just kept on walking. It was awkward enough when Aubrey was talking, but oddly, it felt even more awkward in the silence.

When we arrived at the cathedral, it was stunningly silent, as had been the rest of the school. There was, however, a bag left by the time travelers, set just in front of the Mirror Hall’s entrance. I took the stairs to the side, and Aubrey leaped up to the stage.

Without first consulting Aubrey, I kneeled down and zipped open the bag. It contained a suit— a set of traveler’s robes, embroidered with an unfamiliar symbol: two triangles, connected on one side unevenly.

“Don’t that look kinda like an ‘A’ to you?” Aubrey whispered. “Wonder if there’s a tag on this thing. Should say the brand there.”

I ran my hand along the silky robes, eventually stopping at a papery tag. I read it closely, my eyes still watery from sleep. ‘Atlas Military Faction’, said the words under the logo. I blinked and read it again.

“Hey, well, if this helps with anything, they seem like they're from Atlas,” I said. “But we kind of already guessed that…”

Aubrey had already made her way into the Mirror Hall. I caught up with her, climbing up the endless stairs to the corridor itself. I found her there staring all around.

She snapped out of it and turned to me. “Sorry. Ain’t never seen the Hall. It’s real pretty. Can’t help but notice the weird marks on the glass, though.”

“What weird marks?” Looking around, all I could see were the stunning reflections. I didn’t notice any marks.

Aubrey stepped ahead and bent over to investigate. “Look, they’re all over. Like someone drew all over it with a marker or somethin’.”

With a closer point of view, I was able to make out what she’d meant. All along the glass were small, black smudges. Those hadn’t been there when I’d seen Teresa last.

“Do you think they mean anything?” I asked.

“Nah. They don’t even look connected. Unless…” Aubrey’s ears perked up, and she started to… sniff? It was a weird cat thing, whatever she was doing. She traced her finger in a line from one pane of glass to another.

I was hesitant to ask. “…What’re you doing, Aubrey?”

“I can smell the scent of the robes. A time traveler marked the Mirror Hall. I just can’t figure out why.”

“Well, what do the marks look like?”

Aubrey ran back to the front of the Hall and tapped on a large mirror just above the memorial plaque. “The marks start in a circle here, then they make a line to…” she dragged her finger along, all the way to around halfway across the Hall. “…here. Then they make a line on the floor, all the way up to the generator. I dunno what it means.”

“I don’t want to be pessimistic,” I said. “But do you think this could be an attack plan?”

“Ya don’t think…”

“Well, there’s a chance, right?”

Aubrey nodded. “Too big to overlook anymore. We gotta stay on our guard.”

“We can ask Sydney to put us on guard for the Mirror Hall,” I suggest. “That should stop whatever the hell they’re up to.”

“An’ if they say no, we show Milliheim the evidence! Then they’re double-busted!”

“Good idea.”

“…and?” Aubrey asked. She seemed confused.

I gazed off into the horizon. “And what?”

“Oh, that was an actual compliment. Thanks.”

Looking off into the sky, I noticed something sitting on the ground next to the generator. I walked ahead of Aubrey to get a closer look— it was silvery-blue, with a sharp crescent shape connected to a crimson-wrapped handle.

I picked it up. Immediately, it felt strange, like I was touching something from another world. I unsheathed my own sickle with my other hand and held it up to this one.


Well, almost identical. The one I’d found had a small tag on its handle, shown with that same double-triangle symbol. Maybe anything with that symbol is from the future. Meaning…

“Hey, Aubrey, come check this out.” I heard her footsteps on the glass behind me.

Looking over my shoulder, she understood. “So one of those is yers, and one is a time traveler’s. Dunno which one, though.”

“Yeah, we do. It’s the one with the tag in it.”

“Naw, I meant which time traveler’s it is.”

“Oh. Yeah, we don’t know that,” I replied with a shrug. “I… don’t really know what to do with this thing.”

Aubrey tapped the ground with her foot. “Just go an’ set it back down. Pretend like we never saw it, ya know?”

I kneeled down and set it nearly exactly as it had been before, but not before taking a picture of it with my phone. Milliheim wouldn’t listen to us without evidence.

We kept searching, but we couldn’t find the travelers anywhere— perhaps they’d already woken up. It was getting to be around seven, so we gave it up and headed back to our dorms. We’d gained a little bit of info, at least.

The day, despite murmurs of the looming threat, continued as normal. Most classes were already sidetracked enough by the time the bell rang, so I didn’t really end up learning much. The lack of a teacher in history class was a bit unnerving; hopefully, Copper would recover soon.

Weirdly enough, I spotted a couple of the time travelers guarding the hallways. What they were guarding us from, I had no clue. After the last class bell rang, I caught a glimpse of the whole five of them talking at the entrance to Arenamega. I didn’t bother to listen in.

Dinner was exhausting. It was warning after warning over the intercoms, reminding us we only had twenty-four hours left. “What kinda terrorist announces their own plan of attack?” Aka had questioned.

By the time we were set to sleep as normal, I was restless. My stomach wasn’t sitting right, and neither were my thoughts. Was it some kind of twisted mystery game? ‘Guess which one of your friends turns out to be a terrorist!’ Not my style.

As I was finally drifting off, my phone let off a small buzz. Groggily, I grabbed it and winced at the bright screen. It was a text from an unknown number.

This is Shiera right

I slowly typed a reply.

yes, who is this

This is Aka Cryojen

how did you get my number

I asked Aubrey

how did AUBREY get my number


I took a moment to add Aka’s contact into my phone. My autocorrect kept correcting his name to ‘Alarm Cryogenic’, so I just gave up and told myself I’d change it later.

it’s late, what do you want

I did some investigation on my own cause I wanted to know and I found out something I wasn’t supposed to know

can you tell me tomorrow? I gotta sleep man

I was gonna tell you the whole story, but I can do that tomorrow

Your brain probably wouldn’t get it


No like you’re tired

you’re literally making my eyelids droop just get to the point

Point is, these travelers are weird, man

this is not new information

if you don’t have anything new just let me sleep idiot

I was trying to figure out what was up with the dragon guy cause he wouldn’t let us in



what did you do

if you killed him I swear to god

No, I just challenged him to a duel in Arenamega

but aren’t you stationed somewhere else

ik they’re suspicious but what if they’re telling the truth

then YOU’D be the reason for the season

No this is serious Shiera

We sort of got into another quick skirmish, kinda like what happened in front of Milliheim’s office

And I actually pulled off his mask this time, like fully

oh, he was you from the future wasn’t he

I was in the middle of typing ‘what a shame’ when Aka sent me an unexpected response. I stopped tapping completely.

No, he wasn’t me. He wasn’t even human

He had this creepy face like a lizard

Orange eyes, black where the white should be

White skin, or scales, or fur, or whatever it was

Fucking horrifying man

I stared at the string of texts blankly, then set my phone back on the charger. “Jesus Christ.”

The feeling in my stomach, the anticipation of assured destruction, only grew stronger. I rolled in bed, trying to ease the discomfort. The clock was ticking. Ticking, ticking, ticking…

But what happens when the clock strikes zero?

Slashed Ink.
Steward McOy