Hey, it’s Cal.
So, after the barbecue, things got serious real quick.
Pierre dropped a bombshell on us all the very next day.
His son, Bertrand Faucheuse, is coming back to Earth.
And he’s bringing an army with him.
He’s bringing an armada.
Bertrand left Earth behind many years ago. He’d been at odds with his family since he was young. Then there was an incident. And afterwards, he ran. He blipped all the way into deep space. Pierre and Valerie’s blippers can’t do that.
And ever since, he’s been out there, planning his revenge. Raising an army. Building an armada.
Pierre said that his estimate was that Bertrand and his armada would be here in a month. And Pierre is usually right, down to the picosecond.
And it’s been almost a month. According to Pierre, tomorrow is the day.
And we’ve all been working as hard as we possibly can to prepare for what’s coming.
By now, we’ve got a large community of allies.
Wizards, superheroes, angels, demons, witches, cyborgs and robots.
Anyone who can fight is preparing to fight.
We finally told the normos about the aliens, the day after Pierre told us about his son. We didn’t have a choice. We should have told them sooner.
They’ve been preparing too. With our help, they can work fast.
Bertrand thinks he’ll be catching us with our pants down. That he’ll glass the planet before we realize what’s happening.
Joke’s. On. Him.
Today, I’m just spending the day with my closest friends and family. Just chatting and smoking and drinking like old times.
I wanted to spend one last normal day with them.
Because I don’t think I’ll be here tomorrow.
I’ve got a sinking feeling that, tomorrow, my luck will finally run out.
But I’m okay with this.
If someone’s gotta pull the short straw, it should be me.
Everyone else must survive.
I haven’t talked to anyone about this.
I want their last day with me to be a happy one.
“Are you nervous, Cal?”
Judy looks at me, looking nervous herself.
I’m not nervous. I’ve never been so calm.
Is this what it’s like when you realize that you’re going to die, no matter what?
“I don’t know how I feel right now.”
I hate lying to Judy. I know exactly how I feel, but if she knew, she wouldn’t stop worrying.
“Whatever happens, nigga: we all in it together.”
He and Seth have been training extra hard. Everyone at the School has.
“Cal, can I talk to you in private?”
In my bedroom, I close the door, and use the device Pierre gave me to block out the sound.
The one I use when, ah, me and Judy are busy.
The Oldmans were given one too, a few days after Chris got kicked out, and, well, you know what happened next.
“What’s up, Miles?”
He looks me in the eye.
“I know what you’re thinking, Cal. You’re thinking you’re not gonna survive tomorrow.”
How the fuck did he–
“What makes you say that, Miles?”
“Because I’m thinking the exact same thing.”
Ah, crap. Now I have to tell Miles the last thing I’ve been keeping from him.
“Miles, sit down for a moment.”
We both sit on the end of the bed.
“Miles, I need to tell you something. I’ll rip the band-aid right off: you’re my protégé. You’re my heir. If something does happen to me tomorrow, you will have to take my place. You’ll have to do everything that I do. I didn’t want to tell you this until you were ready, but tomorrow, I might not be able to tell you, because tomorrow, I will probably die.”
“But so will I, Cal.”
“No, Miles. If any of us have to die tomorrow, it’s going to be me. You’ll live on. Everyone else will live on. Everyone else must survive. I’m going to make sure of that. And I’m going to make sure that you’re there, to take over for me.”
“But I’m not ready.”
“Neither was I, when I started doing it.”
“But what about Judy? What about Quin? What about your family? Your fluffies?”
“They’ll live on too. I hate the idea of not getting to see our Quin grow up, but I hate the idea of aliens killing our Quin even more. If I have to drag every last one of those alien bastards down to Hell with me to prevent that, so be it. I’ll pay the price. So nobody else has to. They’ll understand.”
“But maybe you won’t have to die.”
“Miles, I should have died a year ago. I should have died when I jumped off Faucheuse Tower. Every day I got since then has been a bonus. I got one year more than I was supposed to. I saved the world, I started a family, and I helped a lot of people. I’ll be going out on a high note. I can live with this. So to speak.”
“But what, Miles? I can’t pull a miracle out of my ass every time I need one. We’re lucky we got this far without the team taking any losses. I can hear the black wind howling, Miles. Tomorrow, one among us will perish. I just know it. And it should be me. I’ll take that one for the team.”
Miles is in tears by now.
So am I.
“But what will we do without you, Cal?!?”
“You’ll carry on. You’ll survive. And hey, by now, we know, it won’t be goodbye forever. We’ll all meet again Up There, one day. But you guys can take your time.”
“We’re gonna miss you, though.”
“I’ll miss you too. I’ll miss all of you. But, if me dying means you all living, it’ll be worth it.”
I pat Miles on the shoulder. It turns into a hug.
“But hey, just so your last normal day with me is a good one: just this once, I’ll let you smoke with us. Don’t tell your parents, because if you do, it doesn’t matter if I make it out alive tomorrow, because they’ll kill me anyway.”
“You got it, Cal.”
“You’re a good kid, Miles. Shit, you almost a man now.”
“But I’ll still try to be good, Cal.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear, Miles.”
The next day, at 12:00 PM sharp, it starts.
Everyone is down in the streets.
The ChaotiX. The witches and wizards. The angels, all of them. The wizards have been summoning like crazy. The robots, half-demons, the police, the military. Anyone with powers, anyone with weapons, anyone who can fight, and I mean anyone.
There’s even demons here, because they’ve got a vested interest in Earth’s continued existence too.
Even all of the Deaths are preparing to fight, and I’ve never seen them fight before.
Everyone around the world who can fight, is looking up, preparing for the storm.
And that’s when it happens.
And we all find out that the armada was already there. We don’t know how long they’d been there.
They’d been cloaked. We couldn’t detect them. Pierre couldn’t detect them.
They’re huge. Each one is the size of a city. And they’re blocking out the sun.
The entire planet is cloaked in shadow now. That’s how many there are.
And then, from the biggest one, a voice speaks, and everyone around the world hears it. I presume it’s Bertrand’s voice.
“CALVIN!!! KORKEA!!! I WANT TO PLAY A GAME WITH YOU!!!”
I look up at the throneship.
I’m just going to assume that the asshole can hear me.
“You came all this way with an armada to play a game with me, Bertrand?”
“HOW DID YOU KNOW WHO I-- FUCKING FATHER!!!”
Pierre has a very smug look on his face as he looks up at the throneship.
“Hello, son. Why don’t you come down out of that gaudy thing and face your father in person? You were always a coward, that’s why you ran away. Of course I knew you were coming back, and of course I told everyone. You can’t pull the wool over my eyes. I taught you everything you know, Bertie.”
“DON’T YOU DARE CALL ME THAT, YOU OLD BASTARD!!! I’M THE ONE WITH THE ARMADA!!!”
Victor looks up next, pointing a rocket launcher at the throneship.
“For all the good that’ll do you.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP, VICTOR!!! LISTEN, KORKEA!!! HERE’S MY CHALLENGE!!!”
“Let’s hear it.”
“YOU SAY THAT YOU’RE THE STRONGEST MAN ALIVE???”
Doors on the spaceships start opening, and aliens from many different races start flying out.
“THEN PROVE IT!!! FACE MY ENTIRE ARMY!!! ALONE!!! IF ANYONE ELSE INTERFERES, MY FORCES HAVE MY PERMISSION TO FUCK!!! THEM!!! UP!!!”
The aliens start flying towards me.
All of them.
“IF YOU LIVE, I’LL LEAVE EARTH ALONE!!! BUT IF YOU DIE… THEN EVERYONE ELSE ON EARTH DIES TOO!!! AND… BEGIN!!!”