Fantasticoe -- Fall 2011
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Ergo’s Hope

 by Cailen Stuebe



Three weeks ago, at 13:13:13, a dark, metal object appeared. Every human gathered outside to view the giant spaceship that blocked the sun, creating a dark and disturbing mood.  A message appeared across the skies, seen by everyone in each country, from an image of the notorious and infamous Leider, the self proclaimed and tyrannical king of the Kloppers. He was as fierce and horrifying as the tales the humans heard as children made him to be. The blood from the millions of lives he took when the Chosen One lost the Challenge and the burns, from the destruction of his home planet Wraak, made his face a horrible sight.

“Ergo, welcome to The Challenge.”

Ergo stood in awe and shock as the eyes of billions of people looked upon him. The tales said there was a Chosen One, and he would be the one called upon by Leider for The Challenge.

Panic spread. The grocery stores emptied out, and the stations for space flight had grown from an hour’s wait to a year’s wait. People were trying to escape left and right.

Leider appeared on the skies.

“NONE SHALL LEAVE EARTH, OR THE END OF YOUR RACE AND HOME WILL BE IMMEDIATELY!”

As the ships set course to return, the humans feared the end was near. As the world looked upon him, waiting for his recognition, he stood in silence. The boy had never been of use in his 15 years of existence. Abandoned at birth by his mother and lost his father in the Great War, Ergo seemed to be destined for failure.

A whole 38 seconds ticked by before the boy did something no one will ever forget. He stood and shot his fist into the air. A domino effect then took over as every human raised the symbol of hope into the air and took a deep breath. Although Ergo seemed calm and ready, he knew there was work to be done, patience to learn, and pressure to save the world.

The humans watched as Ergo hopped in to his transporter, and raced home.

zzz

In the next hour, Ergo nearly crawled back to his home. Outside waiting was his mentor and “father”, Tucks. Tucks was a fearless soldier who fought in the Great War, when the Earth battled Mars. Without Tucks, the Great Battle would have been lost, and Earth would have been destroyed. Ergo’s father and Tucks fought side by side as the commanding officers of Unit 248 and 249 of the Space Force. In the final battle of the Great War, Tucks watched in fear as Ergo’s father, his best friend, died on Mars in the hands of the aliens. Ergo was only three years old then, and now an orphan, Tucks raised Ergo as if he were his own son ever since.

“Took you long enough boy,” Tucks said sarcastically.

“Sorry,” sighed Ergo.

“Well hurry your ass up! We got a lot of work to do.”

“It’s not like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders or anything,” Ergo muttered under his breath.

“Oh, quit your whining and get inside.”

As they entered Ergo’s home, Tucks took a deep breath, and sighed with relief. Things hadn’t changed at the old condo. Dirty laundry created mountains while food swarmed around them, and the stink overwhelmed the house.

Tucks left the house to Ergo and moved into the Healing Center, a special military hospital, eight months ago. During the Great Battle, Tucks lost both of his legs to a foreign explosive, leaving him paralyzed. The humans recently discovered a cure to grow legs back, and Tucks was the first patient, or victim, as Ergo would say. He went through multiple and arduous treatments and growth serums, and the process was nearly complete. A hovercraft was needed for only a few more months before Tucks could walk again.

“Have a seat my boy.”

Tucks moaned as he moved from his hover to the old recliner next to the television. Ergo sat down across from him, waiting for words of wisdom. The Kloppers, the Torpedojager, and The Challenge all seemed to be a myth. Stories of The Challenge were no more real than fairytales.

“So, I guess I told you the stories about the challenge?” spoke Tucks.

“No not really,” explained Ergo.

“Ah. Well, here we go. The Challenge is basically to test a species and its strengths against the forces of evil. It has 3 parts, the first is composed of trivia questions about their home, the next series of obstacles and traps that test the Chosen One’s strength, endurance, courage, and will. The final component is a mystery; it changes to fit each new Chosen One. If the he or she succeeds and passes every obstacle and question, he lives and saves his planet. If the Chosen One fails in either round, then he is sentenced to torture, and watches as his planet is blown to pieces and every inhabitant of his world is annihilated. Kaboom. The End.”

Ergo sat silently, buried in his thoughts. “Why me? Why the boy who is barely a man? What is so special about me? How am I the Chosen One? Can I do this? Am I ready? How can I?” He was so overwhelmed, he passed out.

Ergo awoke to unknown stench, a fresh clean linen scent. Tucks had cleaned the house, and made it feel more like a sterile prison than Ergo’s home.

“Nice and clean, eh?”

“Why?” Ergo managed to moan.

“It’ll help you focus. You can thank me later. Now wake up, and let’s begin your training.”

“I guess.”

zzz

Two weeks flew by before The Challenge, and Ergo was physically ready, not yet emotionally. Tucks and Ergo practiced from sunrise to sunset everyday. Humans would go watch as if it were a soccer match, cheering on Ergo, and in some cases, Tucks. Mythical creatures, monsters, natural disasters, and unexpected surprises were all thrown at Ergo.

zzz

The dawn of the final day arrived. As dawn rose, every human left their cozy beds and warm homes to watch Ergo board the shuttle. Although no one knew what the final challenge would be, they knew it would be the toughest and most difficult test he would ever face.

Before he boarded the shuttle, Ergo emerged on to the platform and paused.

“I know you are all waiting for me to return as a hero, and I ask you not to. Don’t ever assume. I am just as scared and nervous as you are, maybe worse. I don’t know for sure what will happen up there, but I do know one thing. There is more to us than meets the eye. We humans may seem weak and greedy, but I know that we are strong, brave, and powerful. We have one thing the Kloppers and Leider himself will never have. We have hope. ” As he set foot on the shuttle, he held up the sign of hope, and boarded the ship. Tucks flied up to the platform.

“Ergo!!!”

Ergo shifted, and walked over to not only his faithful and wise advisor, but to the man that’s always been his father. They stared at each other, and their thoughts were clear.

“Good luck out there, don’t be a dumbass and fall for his tricks.” Tucks’ bluntness never failed to make Ergo smile, even at a time like this.

“I know, I know. I’m ready, I think.”

“You are, have faith.”

“Thanks, thanks for everything you’ve ever done for me.”

They embraced briefly.

 “I’ve always loved you like a son, Ergo. I believe in you. You are ready. You are the Chosen One.”

Ergo hugged his father harder, and they let go. Ergo then boarded the shuttle with confidence. The humans watched as the shuttle disappeared towards the Torpedojager. The Earth was silent that day, as they waited for the ship to reach the Torpedojager, marking the beginning of The Challenge.

“I see you are very strong willed, young Ergo.”

 

zzz

The Challenge began as a series of questions about Earth’s beginning, and Ergo seemed to correctly answer each question. During the first round, the questions becoming more arduous and Ergo seemed to get more relaxed, as if this was no big deal. As the last trivia question was answered, Ergo took a sigh of relief. To the world, the Challenge seemed to be over, and the fate of the world was saved. In the second round, Ergo was intimidated by Leider and the Kloppers. They successfully caused Ergo to almost fail the obstacles. The unexpected happened to Ergo in the challenge. What Tucks and his teachings didn’t practice were the Klopper’s secret weapons. The Kloppers, the nomadic species known to follow Leider, have a magic that can manipulate any mind in the world. They treated Ergo as if he were a string on a puppet. The maze they put Ergo through consisted of them giving him forty directions, and playing tricks with his mind as well. Hallucinations were just the beginning of the maze, and the end was inevitable.  Finally, Ergo seized control of his mind, and barely finished the maze. Leider was less than thrilled. Leider clapped sarcastically as he congratulated the Chosen One on his victory, and then proclaimed he had to wait, that one final test awaited him. Ergo knew, and walked towards the final platform, where a small path led to a bright and illuminating key. Ergo took a step towards the key, and the platform started to shake, almost launching Ergo to his death. Leider’s toughest Kloppers all played and tortured him left and right, attacking Ergo with their mind tricks and brutal strength. As he struggled past every Klopper, his determination for the key seemed inevitable.

Ergo stopped dead in his tracks, and watched as a woman floated towards him. She had a white aura surrounding her, and her hair moved with the wind, her body looked frail and delicate, yet somewhat beautiful. She spoke in a calm and seducing tone, and her dress floated and hugged her body. Minutes had passed where the woman watched Ergo and floated around him, grazing his upper body with her hand. When she spoke, her words shot through the air.

“I miss you. My Ergo, my son.”

His mother had abandoned him at birth, but now she was Leider’s final challenge. Ergo stood in awe as the woman caressed her son, and lured him off course, away from the key, and towards the black hole that hid underneath the platform.

“I love you,” the woman whispered.

“I waited for you to return to me, but how do I know you are my mother?” Ergo sighed.

"The day you were born, your father and I were thrilled. We both wanted a perfect little boy, and there you were. Of course, I had to stay the night in the hospital before we could carry you home– to our heaven here on earth. That night, while I was holding you as you slept, a mist appeared throughout the room. As I started to cry for a nurse, a Klopper controlled my mind and silenced me. Leider then appeared as Kloppers invaded and pulled you away from me. I tried and tried to break free but it was no use. Leider then explained that it wasn't you he wanted– it was me. The last moment I remember of that day was a shot of pain running through me, and a bright white light blinding me. I woke up in Leider's quarters, and I've been captive here ever since. Waiting for the day I would see my Ergo again."

Ergo stood in awe, contemplating the woman's explanation of the tragic events of his birth. Ergo didn't move a muscle. It was as if he had been frozen in time.

“Aren’t you coming my dear? I’ve been waiting for you.”

Ergo looked as if he hadn’t heard her.

In the tale, Ergo’s mother was not a human, she was a titan, a creature of the gods. Titans were sent to earth to correct the human’s mistakes. The titans were above the humans, incapable of being injured or killed, let alone captured. She was the first titan to fall in love with a human, Ergo’s father. Ergo knew this woman was not his mother, just a figment of his imagination, meant to lead Ergo away from the key and ultimately, victory. When Ergo began to regain focus, he didn’t hesitate or show his plan.

“Yes Mother.”

As she turned around, he broke out into a run, and rushed towards the key. The woman, unaware of Ergo’s actions, turned and let out a purging scream as she started racing towards him, transforming into a ferocious, man-eating monster. She was as hideous as Leider himself! She was covered in the blood and the pieces of the failed Chosen Ones, and stronger powers than all the Kloppers combined.

He sprinted towards the key and then the monster grabbed his foot, starting to pull back. Ergo landed inches away from the key. He strived to escape the monster’s death grip, and exerted all his strength in fighting it. He twisted and tried to escape, but it had him. The monster’s enormous jaw grabbed Ergo’s torso. Ergo screamed in agony, the venom running through him. Ergo considered giving up, taking short, harsh breaths and clutching his side.

The world stood and waited in awe. Then a boy no more than four, stood and raised the symbol of hope into the air. One by one, the humans raised their fists. An epiphany of the world’s hope hit Ergo, and he fought hard with the monster, and attempted to escape for a mere four seconds. Those four seconds lasted long enough for Ergo to grasp the key with his right hand, and a blinding ray of light devoured time.

zzz

Grasping for air, Ergo crashed to the ground. The key rose into the air, and disappeared in the sun. That was the last time anyone saw Leider and his Kloppers. The Earth was safe, and Ergo had defeated The Challenge. The humans all cheered and cried for Ergo, thanking and praising him, but Ergo didn’t move a muscle.

“SOMEONE GET A FUCKING EMERGENCY SHUTTLE DOWN HERE!”

Tucks hovered towards Ergo to check his vitals. His pulse was faint, and his breathing short and slow. The shuttle picked up Ergo, and raced to the Healing Center.

zzz

After 4 long years in the Healing Center, Tucks had to make the hardest decision of his life. The monsters’ venom had taken over Ergo’s body, and the world’s most advanced doctors couldn’t heal him anymore. Tucks wept as they pulled the plug on the young hero’s life, 4 days short of his 19th birthday.

The news spread across the globe, and the next night a vigil was held in the hero’s honor. Tucks wept as he placed his hand over Ergo’s heart. Then he started the fire. In every country, people looked to the sky as Ergo’s body was burned in front of his home, the funeral for a true soldier.

From that moment on, Ergo became a legend, and the story of The Challenge was told for centuries to come. The human race grew, and the world thrived more than ever. Every night, a collection of stars displays the famous symbol of hope for the world to see, in honor of Ergo.