Amara had counted at least fifty of these women marked with the golden light. The first one being an exception, she noticed a pattern. These women were always confused, seemed out of place and either had a young girl or notes about time traveling on one string to find a girl. Every timeline where she existed, the vibrating string would spit and there would be two. One that seemed to stay normal and the other would slowly degrade in strange ways.
The one thing that she found is that there would always be humanoid looking figures that would have features that imitated humans but there was always something off. Perdita Prime had told her that no more than six creatures can live within in a single vibrating line at one time, and if there were more, they would go irate and do things that she’d prefer not to repeat. But every single time the things would look at Amara, open their wide, disfigured mouth, and charge her. But their skin was weak and thin, and a solid round found easy passage through the skull or skulls of whatever it was.
It would collapse onto the ground and the form would lose shape. Like noodles, but noodles that squirmed and moved before curling up in pain and hardening. They were of no consequence to Amara when she first started her hunting, but the more she did it, the more they started showing up. When she asked Perdita Prime about it, she was informed that they were infestations that needed to be eradicated completely. She gave them no name.
“I need rest,” Amara said. “And more bullets.”
She says this standing in a coffee shop that had just opened. The early morning crowd had been six people. Four of them had fled out of the front of the door, the golden woman had collapsed dead on top of a small round table when Amara shot her in the head. The other person was her daughter who was screaming.
“Granted,” Perdita Prime repeated.
There’s a flash of light and Amara finds herself in a three-room building with no windows. It reminded her of one of the bunkers that she had in numerous cities throughout the world before any of this happened. The walls were made of granite and the floors poured concrete. Dull yellow lighting seemed to fail to fully illuminate the room.
She took a hot shower and then found some clothes hanging in the closet. When she picked them up, she could see there was an armored body suit that fit tight around her. The large plates under the body suit would deaden physical blows. She then pulled on armor that was like her riot gear but light and flexible.
It was everything she would have needed in some of the hardest jobs. But this, so far, wasn’t even a job. It was a slaughter. Normally she didn’t and wouldn’t accept a job that just had her kill the same woman over and over until there were no more, but the things that she had seen and felt were enough to keep her going. At least, for the time being.
The next room was full of guns of all sorts. She picked out two Glock G45 and holsters, a combat knife, and a tactical pump shotgun. She didn’t know if she’d need any of it, but those things, whatever they were, she figured were answering to something that wasn’t made of soft fleshy material.
The very last room was metal lockers that were full of dry food rations. She ate a few standing there staring at the walls and then it finally hit her that she couldn’t see through them. She frowned and tried to step out of the building but couldn’t.
“This is the only place that I have full control,” Perdita Prime said. “There’s no out unless I let you out.”
“I didn’t have a choice,” she said. “In truth you would have just kept me in here until I agreed.”
“I did,” she said. “Because there’s just some things you can’t have control over.”
“Because I’m not all-knowing,” she said.
“Because you would ruin us all,” Perdita Prime said. “Humanity is flawed.”
“That’s not a new revelation,” Amara said unimpressed. “Let me out.”
She would visit the room after every sixteen kills. Every single time she would shower, change clothes, and reload. It wasn’t until she visited the sixth time that she felt fatigue. So, she requested a bed, and it was given. She slept for eight hours, woke, ate a protein bar, and was let loose into the realities once again.
Then she jumped outside a warehouse and knew that something was different. There was a static noise coming from her eye and though she tried to talk to Perdita Prime, she couldn’t, to her relief, hear anything for a moment. The sight she needed was still there, but it wasn’t as strong.
It was evening. The was the smell of sea salt and oil. She was at a dock. That was also new. Normally these women were always at home or doing normal daily tasks. But this was different. Everything about this was different.
She drew both her guns and moved down the empty dock looking left and right. But there was no one. Just some seagulls that regarded her with the blank stare. Through the maze of uniform warehouses, she come to the edge of the dock where the city started. Standing in front of her was a woman with bright red hair pulled into a bun. She was wearing gear like Amara’s.
The weapons, of course, Amara noticed with a frown, were slightly different. There were two pistols at her hip, the make, she was unsure of, but at her back was a sword. There was one thing she hated most was close quarters combat that she wasn’t prepared for. The most interesting thing that raised her interest is that the woman had the golden aura.
“Before we do this,” the woman said. “Who keep sending you after me?”
“Keeps sending,” Amara asked pulling her shotgun free. “This is my first time.”
“It’s not the first time for me,” the woman said. “Are you going to ask my name?”
“I don’t need to,” Amara said.
“Do you know why you’re not supposed to know the name,” the woman asked pulling her sword free.
“It doesn’t matter,” Amara replied.
“My name is Perdita,” the woman said.
“I figured as much,” Amara answered.
Amara leveled the shotgun and fired from the hip. Perdita dove to the left and charged forward and swung the sword in an upward arc set to sever Amara’s arm from the shoulder. But she deflected the blade with the shot gun. They both moved passed one another without any avail. They moved against one another, the gun and sword against one another.
By the time the shells were spent, Amara had several wounds on her limbs, superficial but she was losing blood too fast. Perdita, she could see had taken at least one full shot to her side. The armor had saved her, but there was internal damage.
“How many are you going to kill before you stop,” Perdita said. “There are infinite numbers of us.”
“Until I’m ordered to stop,” Amara said.
Perdita charged and Amara waited until she was close enough. She swung her shotgun like a club knocking the woman to the ground. Her bun fell loose, and she collapsed on the ground. Amara pulled free her pistol and pointed it to the woman’s skull.
“She can’t have her,” Perdita spit. “You’re not going to find her.”
“I don’t know who the fuck you’re talking about,” Amara said. Then she fired the gun killing the woman.
The golden light did what all the golden lights had done until then. Perdita Prime just meant the first Perdita. She was killing all the others out there. There were satellites having in the air above her and she figured it must have some way of stopping communication outside of the string, but she wasn’t sure. So she stepped out of the reality and started moving in what she thought was sporadic ways.
“Welcome back,” Perdita Prime said.
“You didn’t tell me there were others before me,” Amara said.
“You didn’t need to know,” Perdita Prime said. “That one was trouble. There are a lot of them that are going to be trouble.”
Amara didn’t say anything as she moved closed to the Golden String. The noise was so loud that she couldn’t get any closer without feeling like her skin would melt away. There was something inside it that moved down the shaft to get even with her as she stood in the void between the realities. She could feel it’s gaze fall upon her and there was something like amusement.
“You’re not the first that thought they could get to me,” Perdita Prime whispered in her head. “And you won’t be the last.”
“This isn’t about saving the world,” Amara said.
“What is this about,” Amara asked.
“Finding my real daughter,” Perdita Prime replied.
“Then why kill those women that are you?” Amara asked.
“They can’t come back in the cycles,” Perdita Prime. “They become me and always me.”
“Because they are looking for her too,” Amara said. “All of you are just jumping through this looking for a single girl?”
“But I’ll be the one that finds her,” Perdita Prime. “With your help.”
Amara nodded and decided something.
If there was one of her that was this powerful, there was another that was just as powerful. So she continued her job without pause, always on the lookout, because there was something to the experience of the end of everything that was true. In her jumps she could see something coming toward her direction, but it was so far away. But there was a lot of things that she wasn’t be told.
She had to find either the creator of this whole thing, or someone smarter.