The Darkest Hour
by Darkseed

A Massive explosion rumbled in the distance. Rocks and other types of debris hurled through the air and bounced against the dark ruins of the once-city. The dark clouded sky roared and thundered, flashing bolts of lightning struck the ground. Between the dark ruins two shadows crawled in search of cover...

"Fenris, stay close to me!"

Gulder shouted to the other shadow, crawling next to him. A murmur told Gulder that Fenris understood him. Gulder closed his eyes when yet another explosion crashed through the night. He thought back to when it begun.

A team of scientists claimed to have created a device of great strength. The device was powered by the mighty powers of Mana, deemed uncontrollable for a long time. The device was capable of absorbing the Mana-powers in its direct environment and releasing it onto a designated target. The military-department got word of this device and soon it was taken away from the labs and brought to a maximum secured area far away in the desert, far away from civilization to create the ultimate weapon, capable of destroying their biggest enemies. People from the government started to experiment with the device, not knowing what they were playing with. In the beginning everything looked fine, but things started to go wrong really fast. Trouble started when some researchers died. The cause was soon discovered in the form of a power-leak in the device itself, nobody knew what really happened, but some people believed that it was the work of the semi-intelligent Mana. Things calmed down again and the rumours died since nothing happened for a long time, nothing was heard of the experiments for a long time.

But soon, and totally unexpected, a massive earthquake rocked the planet. It originated from the desert in which the secret experimenting-base was positioned. News came through slowly, but soon the media learned of a major excident. The true nature of the earthquake was more terrifying than people had ever imagined. The raw powers of Mana had freed itself and triggered a nuclear reaction, the detonation flattened not only the immediate area of the base, but devastated an area with a radius of one-hundred miles. Satellites showed a massive black hole located in the south of the desert.

Soon the climate started to change, more rain and storm came down. But this was just the beginning. Later that week, nature started to turn against mankind. Earthslides and Volcanic Eruptions destroyed city after city. Several cities just sank into the earth and were covered by dark ashes raining down from black clouds. Within days over nineteen percent of mankind was killed, the remains retreated deep into the underground areas of their cities, in metro-tunnels and stations.

But even there nobody was safe. Strange and unknown creatures started to pour through the tunnels-walls, they killed survivor after survivor. When the creatures were gone, deadly and poisonous gasses started to emerge from the caves deep within the earth and filled the metro-stations. The humble remains of mankind, crushed between two fires, were forced to return to the surface again. Only few survived. In a last attempt to save the earth the remaining scientists launched the Mana Fortress, a secretly developed device with a system similar to the other device that destroyed the other secret base. The scientists believed that one ultra powerful blast would suck up all Mana and destroy it for good. The gods got word of this and launched their own weapon to destroy the fortress. The Mana Beast struck for the first time when the fortress was draining Mana. The danger was that when the Mana Beast would destroy the Fortress when it was charging, it would trigger a reaction that would destroy the very planet and possibly the universe itself. Somebody had to stop the Fortress from charging.............. But Mana is known to be capable of finding to solutions to even the most difficult problems, and it was needed this time.............................

Another explosion returned Gulder to real-life. He knew that time was running out for him in this rain of explosions. His eyes searched the scorched surface around him for a safe heaven or at least a place to hide, but instead he noticed a black dot in the sky, not far away from him. Gulder remembered the shape of the object, he had seen it in the newspaper: The Mana Fortress. The weapon was hanging there, so silently, its sharp contours contrasting against the fiery red sky.

A heavy explosion hurled the friends through the air. Gulder smacked into a piece of rock, he closed his eyes for just a second. But a pain-surge forced him to get back to consciousness. His legs were hurting. Gulder couldn't see his legs so his hand went out to check what was wrong. But on the place where his legs should start there was nothing but air. The hand moved back and halted when it touched a warm and wat piece of something. At that moment Gulder panicked and lifted his head with the last bit of power he had. His fear was not ungrounded, his legs were gone. In panic he turned to a shadow lying next to him, it was his friend Fenris, he was dead, his neck twisted in a strange, almost impossible way. The boy sank back to the ground again and cried. He cried not about his friend's death, nor of his own, he cried because he knew that the proud race of mankind had been taken out, by its own invention.

A shockwave blasted over the scorched ruins. Gulder summoned his last powers to lift up his head. His wet eyes searched the fiery sky once more for the dark contour of the Mana Fortress. But he smiled softly when his eyes found the fortress, huge flares of fire erupting from it. Pieces were crumbling of and fell to the ground. With a roar the fortress lost its ability to fly and headed straight for earth. The ground shuddered when the fortress impacted and the sky lit up.

Gulder smiled, his powers were used, it was over for him. His head sank down again and hit the cold rock below him. His eyes closed slowly, the last thing he saw was the light of the sun breaking through the thick layers of clouds. He knew that the race of mankind was saved.........for now.

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