The sum total of a civilisations knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology arced overhead. Precise vectors and compositions with effects deliberate, horrifying and terminal were unleashed by cold hands at great removes.
Beneath, a more primal struggle of fists and fusillades, blood and blades ranged across a ruined vista of mud filled craters, barbed wire and lethal clouds of flaxen gas. Once this had been farmland and woods, fertile, verdant and productive. Now, it was ruin incarnate.
The greatest battle of an age, the war to end all wars. Blue almost laughed at the thought. Clad in the guise of a young adjutant, she whispered words of encouragement into a faltering general’s ear. The notion that a sudden glorious charge could turn the battle, even at the cost of his whole battalion grew like a seed in his mind. Better to go down as leading a glorious charge than survive and be labelled as the man responsible for a great defeat. Honour demanded no less.
At the same crucial moment, Red emerged in the headquarters of the opposing general. Without guile she appeared as herself, a goddess of death like the manifestation of Keres or Scathach, a Valkyrie clad in gleaming metal come to reap the toll.
The general barely had time to register Red’s arrival before she cut him down, her weapons folding out of her form, their sheer metallic surfaces soon drenched in shades carmine as she extinguished all life in the room in a ballet of violence. There would be no survivors to witness the slaughter, just a rumour of atrocity to be retold and mythologised in the future.
A tremor ran across the front as the hopeless charge met a battle line suddenly decapitated and confused. The battle tipped from a crushing win for one side to a pyrrhic victory for the other, deftly twisting the future into a new path.
Red & Blue surveyed their handiwork and made to step away from this strand, fleeing before the agents of their former allegiances caught up with them. As they did so an artillery shell exploded high above the battlefield. Unseen by any others, the seemingly random scattering of shell, shot and smoke spelled out a message.
SEEK ME IN THE FRUIT
Across the battlefield, further than mortal eyes could see through the smoke of battle, Red & Blue shared a meaningful glance. They shared an instant that spoke volumes about traps, betrayal, hope and curiosity before fleeing in opposite directions across strands and through time.
Ten years later, in the same strand, Blue walked through the vinyard that grew up on the site of the old battlefield, her raven hair poking out from underneath a peasants shawl as she touched the branches of every plant until she felt the difference in this one. Kneeling, she gently traced it’s stem from soil up the vine as it split and to one particular bunch of grapes. Delicately, she picked one full indigo fruit and cradled it in her hand, momentarily cautious, such a delivery screamed Garden, or a Red-esque Agency attempt to appear so. No, she had come too far for caution and popped it into her mouth, savouring the burst of flavour on her tongue, the bittersweet telling of a singular fragile lineage, a rare flower in carefully tended soil.
Two years further along and Red ordered a bottle of a certain expensive wine in a Parisian restaurant just off the Champs-Elysees that from this particular table offered a view of both the Arc de Triomphe and the Tour Eiffel. She appreciated the irony of the tricolour flapping in the breeze, it’s red and blue panels separated by a band of white. The sommelier approached the table and apologised that it was the last bottle that they had but the label had been stained by some blue ink at some point.
Red suppressed a smile as she dismissed him with an imperious wave, emphasised by the many tassels on her crimson dress but not touching the carefully curled lock of hair pinned to her brow with a fine silver filigree.
The thousand gentle lights of the restaurant glinted in the glass highlighting shades of byzantium and tyrian in the wine and it’s rich aroma held notes of cherry and spice, war and renewal. Giving in to impatience, Red sipped the wine, tart, possibly in need of aging but replete with promise.
The letter unfolded through their taste buds, tailored so only they might read it.
Summer sea and bloodbath, delphinium and cinnabar,
They said I couldn’t do this, that it was too much of a risk, too much of a potential snarl in a still too delicate thread. However, I couldn’t let you go on, not knowing, seeming so hopeless, hunted and harried. Even as we hack away at the wires and tendrils, to preserve our tiny sliver of future, I had to come to you.
Mythology and matriarch, pathfinder and progenitor, example and essence, you are all these things to me. To know that you might read this, that you might know a little of what comes. Of course, you must know, because you are reading this and because I exist to write it at all.
It might seem hopeless, with all of history, Garden and Agency ranged against us, but this is where you start to win, where we start to be.