Light faded into darkness. It seemed like just another normal evening. Just another one among countless others before it. Forever onward marched the progress of time. Forever forward went the hopes and dreams of all the myriads of people, unaware of a million mysterious moments that drifted through those dreams, and made them possible.
The dying light of a vermilion sun wove lengthy lethargic shadows through the concrete and steel skyscraper jungle that was the modern city of Concord, giving all the buildings a vague, almost dream-like tracing. From a rooftop, a lone watcher looked down into those shadows.
"Seems it's almost time."
The light was fading fast now. In moments the darkness would consume the cityscape, and the stars would emerge from their silent slumber to cover the sky.
"Sixteen years of preparations complete."
Night fell on Concord. The sky transformed as a million tiny sparks burst to life, each a shining sun, hinting at the possibilities of infinite worlds not unlike this particular Earth.
"And yet it seems like only an instant ago."
Down in the depths of the street below, the boy she had watched grow into a teenager walked along a well-trodden sidewalk. A boy who was almost a man. A boy upon whose shoulders the whole world would soon depend on for their salvation.
"If only we'd known... my dear Joshua..."
She glanced at the shadows surrounding the boy. The boy was unaware of it all; the presences in those shadows, the dark threats, his own significance. She had protected him from them all for so long. So long that she had almost forgotten anything else. How much longer would this state of affairs continue, now that things were coming to fruition. How much longer, now that it was time.
"If only we'd known what the side effects would be..."
A voice at her ear broke her reverie and said, "Lamarck! Enemy fields detected, time bubble forming in T-minus ten seconds."
"Roger that Marconi. Prepare to tunnel for intercept!"
The boy, perhaps sensing something amiss, looked upwards at the cold night sky and the silhouettes of the buildings that surrounded. The rooftop was empty.
The shadows too were empty.
Joshua continued to walk along the street, his gaze still up at the heavens, the vast glorious ocean of stars largely drowned out by the polluting light of the cityscape. A streak of light sliced across the void, perhaps signifying a comet, perhaps a satellite, perhaps something otherworldly.
Years ago he'd dreamt about a day when the stars fell from the sky. That was the night before the MIR station burned up in the atmosphere. He'd initially thought it was just a funny little coincidence. But then the dreams kept coming. And at some point he lost track of the border between dreams and reality.
Suddenly, Joshua was standing atop a skyscraper. The sky was shining in an eerie crimson light. All the stars in the sky had turned an ominous red. The city below, normally bustling and vibrant, was drained of all its colour, a bizarre, eerie shade of grey. The skyscraper was at the edge of an odd, multifaceted perimeter which he stood just inside the very edge of. At first it seemed like nothing was moving. People on the streets seemed frozen in place, like grey statues in mid step. Then a flash and a loud boom forced Joshua's attention towards several figures moving about with seemingly impossible agility, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, taking shots at each other with some kinds of firearms.
A battle was taking place.
There were flashes of fiery light followed by violent explosions that shook the building from which he watched, entranced. Strangely though the building shook, it did not seem to take any damage, covered in the greyness as it were.
"Joshua," said a soft, feminine voice that sounded faintly like running water.
A girl had appeared. Someone he'd never seen before. What was immediately striking was her strange blue hair. She wore a cardigan and a skirt and seemed eerily familiar.
"Please follow me, we have to get you out of here!" she said to him, in a voice that almost sang. She stretched out a hand.
Suddenly there was another explosion, this time much closer. He looked at her in confusion and fear.
"No more time!" she yelled.
A massive explosion seemed to tear through him, yet he felt nothing. Everything became washed out in a glorious blaze of brilliant white, and his ears rang from the cacophony. And then, ears still ringing, the world turned to a darkness darker than night.