The blazing sky burned with millions of lights, all representing attempts at destruction. Pilot X thought about the destroyed children’s home he’d seen on Mersenne. He thought back on his conversation with Captain Alphaea there. How the career yeoman had been thrust into running a planet that could no longer be run due to the destruction raining down.

Mersenne wasn’t even a target. Just collateral damage in this three-way war. He thought about how he’d been tricked into helping cover the war’s existence.

He looked at the three-part device constructed in front of him. “The Instant.” It was ready. The Verity was plugged in providing coordinates. The Progon transmitter was humming. The Sensaurian material presumably awaiting his command.

He made himself think of the people who would never be if he activated The Instant. Of the lives irrevocably changed. They wouldn’t realize it of course. The Instant cut time at the base, causing the timeline to repair itself like a wound. Its inhabitants would assume as they did now that things had always been the way they were. Pilot X wondered how many times this had happened. A useless question “times” given the nature of this.

Only he would remember. He and The Verity sheltered within the bubble of the Instant’s operating field. He alone would carry the memories of a broken universe. He alone would carry the responsibility of wiping out everyone and replacing them. This did not make him a god, he though. It did not make him a devil either. It only made him responsible.

And he feared that. He shied from it. He desperately thought of a way around it. A way to bring the three parties to peace. But he had seen all of this war now. He knew how it ended. With nobody. No system left unscathed. No one left to carry the lesson. That was the biggest crime. The Allendans knew this would not end with a better universe and yet they persisted. His people were the most guilty.

He thought about the destruction of countless systems he had repaired. He thought about the Allendan Council’s arrogance and laughter at how they had manipulated him. He thought about the dead. HE realized the Allendans didn’t care.

He flipped the switch.

The lights disappeared in an instant. Like turning off a lightswitch. For a moment he thought he might have destroyed everything in the universe but himself. But the dim glow from The Verity showed he still had rocks beneath his feet. As his eyes adjusted e could make out stars and even the faint glow Mersenne in the distance.

It had happened so instantaneously. He felt as if he could flick the switch the other way and it would all come back. But of course it wouldn’t. That’s not how it worked. He flicked the switch anyway and nothing happened.

He had done it. He had irrevocably destroyed his own timeline. What had replaced it? Was it something better?

That was his purpose now. To explore this new timeline. To see what had changed. To do his best to make those changes positive.

He would start with Mersenne.