The Living Planet by Gord Cummings
The Living Planet
by Gord Cummings
“What are you hearing?”
“The planet itself. It’s telling me… It doesn’t want to live.”
Everyone stopped what they were doing. Cygnus looked down at Apex Leaf with a face of confusion. Krile stopped making efforts to cave in faults on the surface of the planet. Sandy stiffened in the direction of Apex Leaf and ignored the crowd that was trying to break through his barriers. Miracle Woman was rushing towards safety with two citizens in her arms but she came to a stop. Apex Leaf had taken the meaning of their heroism away, leaving only questions.
“I’ve been hearing it for a while. I just didn’t know where it was coming from but now I see. Or hear it.” Apex Leaf had always been a bit shy and as the youngest member of The Foundation, she wasn’t confident in her abilities. Some of the members of the team could run faster than lightening, some members were invulnerable.
“I thought you could only talk to plants. Now you’re able to talk to planets?” disbelief from Sandy. It was a stretch from being able to talk to dandelions. He had never considered the possibility that the planet itself was a living being.
“I knew something was different when we got to Merin. The planet only had small groupings of communicative plants, however, the messages I was receiving were more like a chorus than the usual rumblings or complaints. The plants were all speaking in unison.”
Cygnus was a founding member of The Foundation when it started so many years ago. He was also the leader of the team. Over the years Cygnus has developed a quieter introspective and sometimes indecisive exterior. This worried the team on their last few missions but before coming to Merin he was confident that the team could save the planet. He rallied the team towards Merin telling them that saving it was the right thing to do, even if it meant intruding on alien soil. He wanted to save a planet. It was the confidence boost that Cygnus needed. He repeated Apex Leaf’s words, “In unison. Like they are all one voice.”
“That’s because it is one voice. The growth all over this planet is tied to the planet’s core. All one root system leading back to a living entity. That entity is Merin itself.” Apex Leaf knew that what she was saying was incredibly fantastic, but a few members of the team didn’t think so at all. In fact, Cygnus and Miracle Woman had come into contact with living planets before and one that could even speak directly to them.
Krile looked panicked. His line of thinking set him on autopilot to save as many people as possible and to fill any deep faults as they developed. “It has to live. It simply has to.”
“For what? We’ve been on this planet for over a year now and honestly, I’m not sure I blame it for wanting to die.” Sandy spoke in. His poorly kept persona made his comment come across as crass.
“Sandy, this isn’t a time for joking around like that” Miracle Woman looked down on Sandy from above. She knew he cared, but she also knew Sandy as someone who stepped out, and often times away, when things were at their worst.
“Whose joking, Miracle Woman? I’m completely serious. I know you’ve even said to me a few times over the year that we should just leave and let these people sort things out for themselves. You know they are destroying themselves and this planet. Maybe you were right.” This was more than Sandy had said in a long time.
“I said those things, sure, but I didn’t think we’d ever find ourselves in this kind of situation.”
“Well here we are” And with that, Sandy returned to his usual character of smart ass comments and little patience.
“I get it. The world may want to die, but look around you. There are people everywhere. All of these people will die as well. We can’t transport them off planet. Where will they go? They will stay here and they will perish. I can’t have that. Does the planet consider them in its suicidal thinking?” Miracle Woman tried to re establish the reason for their mission.
“It is not an it. She has a female voice.” Apex Leaf said.
Cygnus pulled his head up from his hands to look at Apex Leaf. “What is it saying now?”
“The same.” She responded with more silence following.
“Look, Miracle Woman. I’ve been beaten down by Lionus so many times I’ve lost count. This guy beats me up every time we stop his latest scheme to rob a bank. Do you think I love him?” Sandy was uncharacteristically defending his ethics.
“Of course not, but do you want him dead?”
“It’s even more personal than that. This planet has let these people live on it for so long and look what they’ve done! They take and take and then spill the poisoned leftovers down the throat of the thing that’s trying to keep them safe. Don’t blame it if it wants to kill everyone inhabiting it’s flesh.” Apex Leaf zeroed in on Krile. He too was a new recruit. His powers are unique in that he can terraform through small explosions. Apex Leaf felt that she could win him over instead of the older Miracle Woman who seemed to become more grounded in her own arguments.
“I may agree with you, but we can’t let all these people die. We came here to help. Simple. By allowing this planet to kill itself we are allowing murder. I can’t stand by and let that happen.” Miracle Woman then continued to help people and reassured them that everything was going to be alright. Other members of the team began to do the same, although somewhat reluctantly. Krile slowly started to patch holes up. Apex Leaf started to walk towards the crowd of people, ready to apply medicinal treatments from the pores in her fingers. This was a secondary ability of hers and one also rooted in plant based powers.
Apex Leaf was crying though as she thought about the planet. The chorus of plants were hard to ignore and the more she tried too the louder they got. She wished them to just die so she could carry on and ignore their complaints. Sandy was even less confident and set about crowd control away from the fault lines that Krile was patching up.
Cygnus floated in the air, not doing anything. He looked stoic, but his internal dialogue couldn’t have been more violent. He trusted Apex Leaf. He was the one who brought her into The Foundation. He saw something in her that he hadn’t seen in some time. It was the same levels of empathy that his former partner Eclipsa had. It was the most human of powers and one that could only be granted through kindness. This was a power he wanted more than super strength, invulnerability, laser sight, and even flying. He just wanted to be able to understand hurt and to feel other people’s hurt. This was a skill he couldn’t acquire hurdling through space in a melee with Crimson Comet. It’s something he couldn’t learn with his fists.
“Stop!” He cried. Cygnus had tears streaming from his face. His voice was sonic and caused the others, even the crowd, to shutter and duck.
“It’s okay, Cygnus.” Krile waved at him.
“It’s not okay. There is no right answer. We should leave.”
“If we leave all of these people will die” Miracle Woman became aggressive in her stance toward Cygnus. What she really wanted to tell him was to get himself together and get back into the mission. She knew his words held sway over the rest of the team.
“Says the woman who murdered Blitzkrieg Bop.” Sandy was tired of the stance that Miracle Woman had taken and decided to throw it back at her, reminding her that she had killed before.
“You son of a bitch!” Yelled Miracle Woman as her eyes flared fire and her anger seared throughout her bloodstream. She dove at Sandy with her fists well in front of her. When she made impact Sandy was crushed into the ground. Sandy had mild invulnerability and would likely live the blow, but Miracle Woman had the same strength as Cygnus. She was impossibly strong especially when she was in such a state. She was also fast and none of the rest of the members were able to stop her before contact was made.
A cloud of dust arose from where Miracle Woman drove Sandy into the ground. Cygnus immediately went to the spot and pulled Miracle Woman up by the neck, holding her there. Sandy’s body lay akimbo and still.
“We will not destroy each other over this. You know better.”
“I didn’t murder Blitzkrieg Bop! My mind was under the control of Mayhem when it-”
“We know what happened! All of us know what happened, even Sandy. Don’t you know when someone is trying to goad you?” Cygnus was furious.
“That little stain has brought this team down for a long time.”
“Stop trying to justify what you’ve done. You better hope he lives through this.”
From the grasp of Cygnus, Miracle Woman looked down at the body of Sandy. When she saw that he wasn’t moving her shoulders dropped and so did her efforts to free herself from Cygnus. He let go and she fell to the ground where she grabbed her knees in a non heroic fashion. Apex Leaf ran to the body of Sandy. She knew that his healing powers would no doubt save him from this, but she aided anyways and laid her hands on his cheeks. Her pores released hundreds of minerals in just the right combinations, exactly what was needed by Sandy to recover. It was his body telling her what he needed and she was able to respond accurately. She cried.
“I vote we leave this planet and let it sort itself out.” Cygnus threw out.
“I vote we save these people and convince this planet to live.” Miracle Woman said softly. She was ashamed of what she did to Sandy but still had her convictions.
“It sounds unlikely, but it’s worth a shot. There’s billions of people on this rock and I don’t want their blood on my hands.” Krile joined in with Miracle Woman’s reasoning. “Maybe we just need to give the planet a reason to live.”
“It’s more complicated than that. What do you think Leaf?” Cygnus looked to Apex Leaf for some guidance and to check where her ambitions lay.
“I vote we do exactly as this planet wants. I think we need to honour its wisdom and experience and not just let it die, but help it die. Now.” Her understanding was of course deeper than any of the others because she alone was the antenna for the information the planet was communicating. With each call for help there was a strained inhale of the atmosphere. In her mind killing the planet Merin was the only ethical thing to do.
“Sweetheart, this isn’t just the planet we’re talking about here. It’s all of these people. It’s just wrong.” Krile reminded Apex Leaf of what was at stake, much like a record repeating over and over again a tired song.
“I am not your sweetheart. And I don’t see it the way you see it! This planet gave life to all these people much like our earth gave life to us. Essentially the people on this planet are this planet. As far as I can see, this planet can do what it wants with its body. I believe this so much I’d be willing to go to the distance to make sure that this planet has that right. I may even help it in executing that right.”
“Hah! That’s rich. First of all, the Earth didn’t give birth to us. We were put there in the hopes that we could please God enough to allow us to come home after-” Krile was cut off by Sandy.
“Even after travelling through space with beings- with Cygnus and Miracle Woman- you’d still believe in some boogeyman that instituted suffering? Time to start using those terraforming powers on your own brain, Junior.”
“This isn’t going to go well.” Cygnus stated simply.
“I’m not trying to object to your beliefs, Krile. I think what you believe is what you believe. I encourage you to leave Merin right now. Same with you Miracle Woman, and you Cygnus. I will stay and ensure this planet leaves existence with some dignity.” Apex Leaf.
“I am sorry for the things I’ve done today but I can’t allow you to do that.” Miracle Woman stated. “If I have to stop you from killing this planet I will.”
“And to what end? To the death? Are these billions of lives more important than mine? I think as a member of The Foundation I will go on to save the lives of millions more people. Why are you so willing to see me dead? To see Sandy dead?” Apex Leaf was beyond her shyness and lack of confidence. The voices of the planet were so difficult to ignore. Throughout the argument she was losing respect for some of her own heroes. She could understand Krile, because he was young like her. She also understood that Krile had religion. But she couldn’t believe that Cygnus was so immobilized by what was going on. In her mind, she thought that Cygnus should have made a decision to end this discussion and the group could have left under his order. Miracle Woman was the most disappointing as she had always been marketed as a free spirit and ethically right in her moral compass without any waver. On Merin, Miracle Woman seemed defeated.
“How could we possibly kill this planet anyways? Even if we wanted to?” Miracle Woman switched from personal logic to the practicality of actually destroying a planet.
“I’ve thought it through. Cygnus could drill deep into the core of the planet. Once in the centre, he could heat it and the instability of the gravity and substance would corrupt itself. Or, Krile could explode larger than he’s ever done before. In the fight with the World Monger, Krile exploded over the surface of half the planet. Merin is only a quarter of the surface of that planet and twice as unstable. Miracle Woman and Cygnus could transport me and Sandy off planet.”
“I won’t do it.” Krile immediately responded.
“And Krile could die. Then will you do it, Cygnus?” Miracle Woman switched towards curiosity. She was tired of the banter and simply desired action. After almost killing Sandy, she wanted to leave the planet and leave this debate.
“What? You’ve changed your mind?” Krile was insulted at Miracle Woman’s course.
“One of the things I’ve learnt over my years of heroism, Krile, is that nothing is so dire as to tear apart family. This nearly did that to us today. I lost control and almost killed Sandy. Apex Leaf, although a bit too eager in her rationalizations, has a point or two. If the team, or I should say, my family, decides that this is what we are doing, I will go along.”
“It’s no time for sentimentality. Let’s get this over with.” Sandy came about fast. This was likely because of the help that Apex Leaf provided. Miracle Woman smiled in Sandy’s direction.
“Fine then.” Muttered Krile. Cygnus smiled and turned towards Sandy, relieved that he was alive. Apex Leaf ran towards Sandy to try to help him up.
Krile was charging his body. He was able to draw in kinetic energy from the surroundings. He felt the movements of the crowds of people draw in to him with all of their anxious twitches. He felt the rising tides of zeal as they returned to the body of Sandy and then into Krile himself. He was astounded at the immense power within Cygnus as well as in Miracle Woman. It was as immense as the energy coming from the planet itself.
Krile nourished this last thought of appreciation for his team mates. Then he released.
* * * * THE END * * * *
Copyright Gord Cummings 2015